making the scene

Only 30% of live music events in Kelowna happened downtown this year!

Kelowna's Music Migration


Where Did They Go?

to the outskirts. to wineries and craft breweries. to open spaces.

by Miles Overn

Ben Klick | Photo copyright (c) 2021 Miles Overn Photography

the story behind the numbers

About more than just Covid and the closure of venues

Watching the local music scene over the past couple decades, and especially how it has radically changed during these recent Covid constricted years, there has been a radical shift in the musical landscape. With the recent departure of long-standing downtown venues like Fernando’s and Muninn’s Post, along with the transitioning of Doc’s to a primarily canned music venue, gigs for live musicians seemed to largely evaporate into thin air. Could that really have been the case?

Many believe there simply haven’t been any gigs or opportunities to play. There is a widely held belief that live music is dead, as well as a great many music fans expressing a longing for the day that it returns. The reality is that it never went away, it just changed its postal code. Venues in and around Kelowna played host to almost 1,100 live music events in 2021. Close to 250 artists played at over 80 different venues. So where did all these supposed events take place?

Who and where are these venues?

Largely, they moved out to the wineries and craft breweries outside of the downtown core and north end. Out to East Kelowna or Lake Country, or across the bridge to West Kelowna. Local wineries and craft breweries are not just having a moment, they are keying into a sea tide change that has been building across much of North America for years now as even Grammy award winning artists and bands have been doing tours that take place entirely in some combination of wineries and casinos. An appreciation for fine vintages is not likely to be the sole reason for this new approach.

One of the few concrete findings of the recent outside study done on the local music scene was that the second biggest reason that survey respondents listed for not attending more live music events was access to parking. While parking downtown can be lacking at the best of times, many patrons find the journey from where they parked their car to the venue where the music is taking place to be an anxiety riddled one. Poorly lit streets, rows of parked cars and darkened doorways, and the myriad vagaries of current city life all make for an off-putting experience. How does the winery experience compare?

Enough space for parking right at the venue

Many of the larger wineries, like eiKelowna’s 2021 Busiest Live Music Venue The Vibrant Vine, along with others like O’Rourke’s Peak Cellars and Blind Tiger out in Lake Country, and Grizzli Winery in West Kelowna, have huge parking lots right on the premises. In addition to this not insignificant advantage, events at these venues often take place earlier in the evening or even in the afternoon. The expressed concerns by patrons around the whole parking predicament is fully addressed by both parking lot proximity and daylight hours. The reduction of stress related to both the walks to and from the venue allow one to be truly more in the moment and able to enjoy the music that much more.

Craft Breweries, like Barn Owl Brewing (2nd busiest venue this year) and Copper Brewing also enjoy adjacent parking lots and offer shows on afternoons and early evenings. Copper Brewing finished just outside the top 5 busiest venues. The 2 busiest, 3 of the top 5, and 4 of the top 7 busiest venues were all outside of the downtown area and provided early shows with lots of parking. Seems likely to be more than a coincidence. Forbidden Spirits was the other top 5 venue featuring the enviable combination of on premise parking and early show starts.

Conclusion

While the landscape is in fact changing, it is our view that the scenery is still very compelling. It may be much more attractive to people who had dropped out of the scene in recent years and could be lured back into the community and the scene simply by extending an invitation that appeals to their sensibilities, musically and otherwise.

reviews from outdoor shows

Some examples of great outdoor performances

Anna Jacyszyn and Loni Moger at Grizzli Winery

Grizzli Winery, just across the bridge into West Kelowna, features an indoor/outdoor performance area and a sizeable parking lot right beside the building.

Anna Jacyszyn at Grizzli Winery | Photo copyright (c) 2021 Miles Overn Photography

Evening show on Saturday, April 24, 2021
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NFA - The Rock Dance Band at Forbidden Spirits

Forbidden Spirits, out in East Kelowna, is situated on a large piece of land that affords it a decent amount of on-site parking. They were one of the 5 busiest venues in Kelowna in 2021.

NFA - The Dance Rock Band at Forbidden Spirits | Photo copyright (c) 2021 Miles Overn Photography

Evening Show on Saturday, July 17, 2021
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L & JZ at The Vibrant Vine

The Vibrant Vine has a huge parking lot right on the winery property itself, and directly beside both the outdoor stage as well as the entrance to Jacko's Lounge.

Libby Coulthard at The Vibrant Vine | Photo copyright (c) 2021 Miles Overn Photography

Evening Show on Saturday, July 22, 2021
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Artists Photographed in 2021

Aaron Loewen | Alfie Zappacosta | Andrew Allen | Andrew Johns | Andrew Judah | Anna Jacyszyn and Loni Moger | Anna Katarina | Apollo Agua | Ari Neufeld | Ballet Kelowna | Barbara Samuel Duo | Barry Wilson | Ben Klick | Bex | Black Cat Soul | Bo Higgs | Bran Sanders | Brent Tyler | Brittany Graling | Bruce Spencer | Chloe Davidson | Clanna Morna | Cod Gone Wild | Corey Primus | Cover2Cover | Curtis Avery | Dale Disimone | Dan Tait | Dana Kowalsky | Dear Rouge | Diana Rose | Dirt Road Opera | Double Sharp | Elisha G | Ellie Fier | Floyed Meets Brwon | Focale | Garcia Band | Garrett Scattergy | Glory Days | Gorden James | Hailey Lewis | Hunter Brothers | Irwin & Higgs | Jackfish Narrows | James Hay | Jeff Piattelli | Jeremy Messenger | Jessica Le | Jimmy Balfour | Jodie B | Joe Lejoie | John Paul Byrne | Johnny Bootleg | Josh + Bex | Just Friends | Kailee McGuire | Kentucky Eileen | Kinga Heming | L & JZ | Leila Neverland | Mark Irving | Melissa Livingstone | Michael John | Michelle & Kent | Mitch Howanyk | Moirs Hill | Moontricks | Nevaeh Dyson | NFA - The Rock Dance Band | Nico Boesten | Niki Martinues | Nomads | Norm Strauss | OKM Senior Jazz Combo | Pat Ryan | Poppa Dawg | Post-Modern Connection | Proper Man | R Sherman | Rachel Raditz | Rob McLaren | Rollin' Coal Trio | Rumour Mill | Rusty Someone | Sad Tom and the Noodles | Sally Wallick | Sam Balson | Scotty Berg | Seventy Times Seven | Shalisa Liesch | Shari Ulrich | Shawnee Kish | Sista B | Smitten | Sonder | Songs of the Southern Belles | Stephen Kubassek | Stringers | Sycamore String Quartet | Tega Ovie | Teigen Gayse | The Canadian Jazztex | The Heels | The Legendary Lake Monsters | The Meliponas | The Royal Foundry | The Scalawag | The Tree Huggers | The Raz | The Steadies | Torrey Woody | Willy Marcotte Band | Wood Wire & Fire | Yukon Blonde | Zoe Marie Welch

- and many more to come -