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The Venue is always alive with music, but on Saturday, November 9, a very special kind of creative energy occupied the space.

The event etched into everyone’s recent memory is Benefits for Bands, a unique evening featuring young local musicians who, for one exciting night, had the opportunity to perform live onstage at a popular downtown site.

In the glow of neon blue lights, a healthy crowd gathered and rushed to find seating that would provide them with a good view of the performers. The atmosphere was fun and light, buzzing with young talent.

The nine live musical acts ranged from classic rock to pop punk to R&B to jazz funk, each adding its own flavour to the mix. Musicians present included Outshined, Ehren Kassam & Eric Osborne, Jesse Pollett, Avery & the Hepcats, Ella Fischer-Slack, In Dying Days, Face the Facts, Broken Foot, and Token Players.

“It was thrilling to finally see all of the performers on stage and feel the incredible energy of the crowd,” said Wendy Fisher, one of the event organizers.

“Most of the groups had never played through such a top of the line sound system, and everyone at The Venue was just so supportive. It was the best atmosphere for the kind of event the performers wanted to create. It was a huge success.”

This evening did not come about on its own, however. Last spring of this year, bands from the region played together at the annual Blue Sky Music Jam sponsored by the City of Peterborough. Several of the bands decided to collaborate to build up another show with the hopes of raising funds for their independent recording projects.

This resulted in the undertaking of Benefits for Bands, an enormous project aimed at helping young musicians develop a name for themselves in the local music scene and share their music.

Emphasis was placed on the importance of having established musicians helping younger ones. Although there was no judging, local recording studios, music stores, and music professionals all donated their time and resources to create a specific prize for each of the bands.

These ranged from offers of recording sessions to opportunities to play live at various locations over the coming months.

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All bands received claps and cheers of support from fans and family members, and were additionally given feedback at the end of their performances.

Ella Fisher-Slack was one of the many musicians participating in Benefits for Bands. After finishing her velvety smooth renditions of “I Know Where I’ve Been” by Queen Latifah, “Landslide” by the Dixie Chicks, and “One and Only” by Adele, she was offered a chance to play at The Black Horse Pub, as well as a full promotion package from Strut Central.

“The event was a major learning experience,” Fisher-Slack shared. “I really benefited from playing in more of a nightclub environment rather than a fully seated auditorium. It was a whole different feel as a performer. And I really appreciated all the support, not only from the audience, but from the other performers as well. It felt like a family. I’d love to do it again.”

Major sponsors of prizes included Haggarty Sound Studio, Bud’s Music Centre, and The Venue.

Brandon Hastings, an organizer and band member of Outshined, admits to having had a similar experience.

“I feel like the event went over really well, and I’m extremely proud to say I organized this event. I’ve gotten a lot of good feedback and hope to do it again. As far as the performance, it was freaking incredible! Such a different atmosphere from what we are used to! The crowd was amazing, feel and energy onstage was the best it’s ever been, and I personally couldn’t stop laughing out of happiness!

“It’s such a cool feeling being in a venue of that caliber and doing sound check. Hitting the first chord and hearing it back through the monitors and bouncing off the walls gives me goose bumps. We all love it and really hope we can do it again soon!”

Even more amazing than these positive responses was the fact that over ten local businesses sponsored Benefits fors Bands by purchasing tickets that were donated to Youth Unlimited and the Youth Emergency Shelter. This ensured that all youth wanting to attend the show had the opportunity to do so.

Overall, the night was a great success. It was unanimous among those in the audience that this event is one we music lovers hope to see return in the future!

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Jen is a third year Indigenous Studies and English undergrad, and has been writing for Arthur since 2012. She has written dramatic pieces performed in Nozem theatre for Anishinaabe Maanjiidwin, been published in small alternative magazines, and is currently developing a book of self-positivity poetry in partnership with local Peterborough youth. In addition to spending her time writing essays, short stories, and articles, Jen can also be found devouring sushi at local restaurants downtown or sipping one too many cups of coffee by the river.