Port Alberni has quietly become a hub for musical headliners and the possibilities for growth are endless.
A dozen years ago, getting a top-of-the-line musical act to play in Port Alberni took some persuading—both to the musician and in urging people to buy tickets.
While people in Port Alberni still have a reputation for buying tickets at the last minute for events, their support for live entertainment is being noticed.
This year alone, Funtastic Alberni brought in Trooper and a host of other musical entertainers as part of the 20th annual Okie Dokie Slo-pitch Tournament on Canada Day weekend; Swollen Members are headlining at the Five Acre Shaker Aug. 10-12; and punk rock legends DOA are coming to the Rainbow Room on Aug. 17.
An 80-member cast of Chamber Opera Tours of Chicago’s performance Jane Austen’s Persuasion: A Musical Drama bolstered the annual Jane Austen Festival in early July. Blues star David Gogo chose Port Alberni as the only venue to play in May while he was writing new music.
John Pippus, a Canadian songwriting legend, has chosen Char’s Landing for a three-day fundraising benefit for Art Rave. Ottawa performer Victor Nesrallah, VIA Rail’s ‘artist on board’ in July, chose Char’s Landing for an intimate Island performance.
This success can be attributed to opportunity: Port Alberni has several ideal performance venues, such as Char’s Landing, Capitol Theatre and the ADSS Theatre in the new high school. Charlene Patterson saw this kind of potential when she moved to Port Alberni and opened Char’s Landing in a converted church on Argyle Street. The Capitol Theatre has always been a bastion of live performers, as it is the home of the Portal Players Dramatic Society, and also used for live music performances on occasion. Although some were sad to see the old ADSS Auditorium demolished—it had room for 1,000 spectators—the ADSS Theatre at half the capacity is still proving to be a valued venue.
Opportunity can also be found in the dedication of Alberni Teens Can Rock, which brings teen musicians together to perform, and with local stars such as Lance Lapointe, Lance Goddard, Dave Rutherford, Dennis Olsen and countless others who share their talents with others.
New opportunities like live music at Canal Waterfront Park on some Saturdays throughout the summer, and at Market on Margaret on Wednesday nights are fostering this growing attitude.
It’s great to see the community embracing its musical expression.
— Alberni Valley News