Doug Pickard stands inside of GroundZero Acoustic Lounge’s new, bigger location after a strong first several months for the new music venue in Parksville. — Adam Kveton Photo

New digs for young music venue

Buy-in from musicians, music-lovers prompts move to former antique store

GroundZero Acoustic Lounge hasn’t been around in Parksville for long, but its star is already rising.

It was begun as a sort of band project by local rock-and-roll dance band Groundswell, which opened its practice space at #5-1176 Franklyn’s Gull Rd. to the public and musicians. Their plan was to host one open mic night, jam session and one concert a month, with some workshops by local performers.

It was capable of holding just about 40 people, but interest has grown enough for the lounge, known as GZAL, to get a new, bigger space.

“I’m definitely happy with the response and surprised by how supportive people have been,” said Doug Pickard, Groundswell band member who, along with bandmate Megan Keene, has been spearheading the GZAL endeavour.

“We’ve had an incredible run of support from the community, especially from the musicians. Lots of people coming out to watch the open mics and the concerts that we’ve had so far,” Pickard said.

Hence the move to their new digs at 464 Island Hwy. East, unit 8, near the Boston Pizza.

The space is a former antique/vintage store with some funky decorations, more space, high ceilings, and a big garage door that opens up to a parking lot where Pickard envisions having food trucks for concerts.

“So we’re going to have more feature performers come around. And then we have our open mics and jam sessions and all that kind of stuff too,” in addition to workshops, he said.

Though the lounge began as a band project, “It’s got its own legs now,” said Pickard, who’s busy bringing in more people to help book some bigger names and keep the effort going.

Pickard said he admits to not being sure if the market in the area was already full up enough with live music, but he said the focus on the lounge as a musical venue, and providing a place where local musicians can regularly jam together, has proven successful.

“Local musicians like the fact that they can come out for jam nights,” said Pickard. “It isn’t just about going to watch. They actually get to take part and be involved and be able to play music as well instead of just listening to music.

“I think that’s what’s surprised me the most — how many musicians have come out on a regular basis to our open mics and to our jam nights. So I think that’s the part that was mostly missing in our community.”

For more info on what’s coming up at GZAL, go to www.gzalounge.com.

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