The future of live music in the Parksville Qualicum Beach area is uncertain, leaving people like Doug Pickard in a state of limbo.
He’s the owner of GroundZero Acoustic Lounge in Parksville, a small venue known for hosting touring and local acts alike. Before COVID-19, the spot would hold jam sessions, open mics and more. Even with restrictions easing across the province, the venue is still too small to safely hold a large enough audience to make GZAL financially viable for Pickard. He calls the future of the space “uncertain.”
“We don’t sell drinks and we don’t serve food. We can only generate income from door sales, to be honest,” he said. “Who ever would have thought a pandemic would have caused this to happen?”
Luckily, he’s found a way to keep the music alive. He’s teamed up with Karen Freeman, facility co-ordinator at Knox United Church, for a summer concert series. The church, located at 345 Pym St. in Parksville, has enough room for ample social distancing.
“I’m so excited to at least do some shows with Knox Church and Karen and to at least bring in some musicians,” he said. “It’s totally cool.”
They’ve done one show so far, on July 10, and Freeman said it was so great to see people enjoying live music again.
“Everyone was just so excited to be able to hear live music again and to see a performance,” she said. “So, it’s really great to be involved in that kind of a partnership where it’s something that benefits so many. The musicians themselves are just so excited to get back and play in front of people and so we’re happy to provide that space.”
Freeman said they’ve done a lot to make the space safe for audience members and performers. Masks are required to be worn during shows and doors are left open to allow for airflow.
“We’ve invested in a fogging machine through Island Cleaning Supplies that we can go in there in between shows,” she said.
The lineup for the rest of the series is as follows: Heartwood on July 25; Edie Daponte on Aug 8; Brandon Isaak on August 22; David Essig on Sept 28 and Leeroy Stagger on Sept 26. All tickets are $30, with two shows being offered each night: one at 5 p.m. and one at 7:30 p.m. More information and tickets can be found at www.gzalounge.com. All tickets are purchased beforehand.