By Matthew Liebenberg
The Blenders Music concert series in Swift Current is returning for a new season of performances by Canadian musicians, but initially there will only be three fall concerts.
Cultural Festivals Director Amanda Girardin feels the lineup for the 2023 fall concert series will provide a diverse and entertaining experience for music fans.
“I’m excited,” she said. “Obviously with only three shows, I couldn’t do the full scope in the full range of different genres that we normally would do, but I think we’ve offered a bit of diversity with the lineup. We’ve got some blues, some indie rock, some Americana. There’s hopefully a little something for everyone.”
Several factors have played a role in the decision to only offer a fall concert season instead of a full line-up.
The annual Blenders Music series has been providing memorable musical experiences over the years and the past 2022-23 season continued that tradition. There were nine regular and two special concerts, but attendance was not on the same levels as before the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our attendance has still been really slow to return,” she said. “So that’s a bit of a reflection in our lineup for this year as well. … We’re a little bit slower in our programming this year, a bit of a reduction for now, but we’re hoping to see the audiences come out to the fall shows. And hopefully that will mean additional programming down the road.”
She noted that they have been looking at some artists for 2024, but for now the three fall concerts are the only performances that are booked and that will go ahead.
“We’re going to see how those go,” she said. “And hopefully, if the audiences come out and we get the support that we need, then we can continue with programming into 2024.”
Other considerations in the decision to only have a fall concert series for the time being was increasing expenses and the temporary closure of the Lyric Theatre for building upgrades.
“We’ve seen a decrease in audiences post-COVID and we’ve also seen an increase in expenses,” she said. “Artist fees have gone up just like everything else. That’s an additional expense that we had to take into consideration. The other thing that we had to consider is that with the Lyric being closed right now, we had to obviously move our shows to a different spot. … That was a bit of a shift for us as well. So we just thought, let’s do the fall shows for now and we’ll see where things are at.”
The three fall concerts will take place in the Great Plains College auditorium, which Girardin felt provides a great opportunity to utilize a larger space while remaining in the downtown area.
“The space will be quite a bit different to what we’re used to at the Lyric,” she said. “We will have a mix of higher bar top tables with our regular seated tables and then we also have additional space for a bit of a dance floor in the front. So, we’re looking forward to having a bit more room at the college in the auditorium. And it also gives us a chance to hopefully tap into the student population at the college.”
The concert series will kick off on Sept. 15. Unfortunately, the scheduled performers had to cancel their show in Swift Current and Blenders will be arranging a replacement act. Watch the Blenders website or social media for an announcement.
The second fall concert on Oct. 14 will be a high energy performance by the Vancouver Island indie folk outfit WiL, featuring the unusual strumming technique and full acoustic guitar sounds of frontman William Mimnaugh.
“His website is ibreakstrings.com, if that gives you any sort of sense to what you can expect at the show,” Girardin said. “He’s really fantastic and puts on a great show.”
It has been quite a few years since WiL performed at Blenders and their sixth studio album The Gold Mine was released in 2022.
The third fall concert on Nov. 18 will feature Saskatchewan singer-songwriter Belle Plaine. Her critically acclaimed 2018 album Malice, Mercy, Grief & Wrath received praise from Rolling Stone magazine and she was nominated for Roots Solo Artist of the Year at the 2019 Western Canadian Music Awards. Reviews of her music include frequent references to the unique quality of her voice and her genre defying music.
“She’s put out some really great albums,” Girardin said. “I’m excited to hear that she’s working on some new stuff and hopefully we’ll hear a little bit of that. She’s really grown her band as well, which is super fun to see. It really brings up the energy when groups can come with a full band. So I’m really looking forward to her show.”
See the Blenders website (www.blendersmusic.ca) for more details about concerts. Tickets for the fall concert series are available at Pharmasave in Swift Current or online at www.eventbrite.com.
Discounted passes for all three shows are available for $90 and a new addition is student pricing at $25 per show. Reserved tables can be booked for any show. Prices are $480 for a table of four or $960 for a table of eight, which includes concert tickets, any taxes, snacks and wine. Table bookings can be done by calling 306-536-0788 or sending an e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org