It can be tough out there for a blues band, but three groups are working to make their own luck with their first Nanaimo Blues Invasion performance taking place in Coombs.
The Mark Crissinger Band, Renovation Blues Band and Lazy Mike and the Rockin’ Recliners will be playing at the Coombs Rodeo Hall on Saturday.
The performance and dance is organized by the bands themselves, with Mark Crissinger first coming up with the idea, said Mike Mallon of Lazy Mike and the Rockin’ Recliners.
The event is in reaction to the tough go blues bands are having getting booked, he said.
“The guys that are in Mark Crissinger’s band, and the guys in Renovation Blues Band, we are all friends, so it was like, ‘How can we make this better for ourselves, if the clubs and stuff aren’t going to hire us? Let’s look for ways we can do our own thing,’” said Mallon.
The event is also a bit of a call-back to how things used to be done, he said.
“I remember when I first started out in this industry in the ’70s, we would rent a hall and do our own thing, and yeah, you didn’t always make a pile of dough on it, but we had a good time and we did it ourselves,” he said.
“And then you start getting into the whole bar thing. The bars were fairly lucrative at one time in the ’70s and ’80s, you could make a living. But it started slowing down in the ’90s and now… it’s a tough go sometimes. It’s constant phoning and trying to book.”
Getting this show going hasn’t exactly been easy, either.
The first Nanaimo Blues Invasion performance was set for February in Victoria, but the venue the bands had booked shut down.
Nonetheless, they are hoping this upcoming performance in Coombs will act as a springboard for more group blues performances elsewhere on the island.
Mallon said he also hopes to get more people dancing to the blues with these concerts.
The debut concert takes place Saturday at Coombs Rodeo Hall, with doors opening at 7 p.m. and the event running until midnight.
Tickets are $20 and can be purchased at the Coombs Store, Cranky Dog Music in Parksville and Arbutus Music in Nanaimo.