Powell River has a long tradition of valuing and supporting music. Declining CD sales, higher travel costs, increased competition and fewer venues willing to pay for live music have left many creative composers and musicians scrambling to pursue their profession. Performers, particularly noncommercial ones, are touring less and less due largely to increased travel costs and declining fees.
Two exciting options exist in Powell River that allow us to present some of these talented individuals and small groups to local audiences – house concerts and an intimate concert venue, The Cranberry Hall – allowing performers and audience to meet and interact in a warm, friendly environment.
When we moved to Powell River, we heard about others presenting house concerts, but usually after they were over! A number of performers mentioned that the cost of bringing a vehicle on the ferry and then playing to a disappointingly small audiences was frustrating. Because we are fortunate to have a large home with extra bedrooms, a professional sound system and lots of experience in producing and involvement with the music profession, festivals and production, it seemed reasonable that we begin to present house concerts ourselves. We contacted the Winnipeg-based Home Routes organization, who schedule circuits of house concerts throughout the country. Our suggestion was that we tie into an existing Vancouver Island circuit – The Cedar Shake – and have performers walk on the ferry, saving costs. We meet, host and feed them, and they get 100% of ticket fees and cd sales. We promote the event, provide a bed, and feed them for a day and try to ensure that the artists have a reasonably-sized audience (and revenue). Home Routes selects the performers, and since we began we have consistently had a number of excellent artists, including a number of award winners, all of whom have been gracious and generous with their performances. Having live music in the home is a wonderful thing.
Beginning in 2014, I decided to start presenting concerts at the Cranberry Hall. Audiences have been steadily building, resulting in sold out events. I plan to continue as long as performers want to come, and we are able to present excellent shows. It’s a great thing to live in a community like Powell River, bring affordable music to our friends and neighbours, and support our community and the artists.