I met with husband and wife duo, Peter Stone and Denise MacKay, and Jessica Marsh in the garage behind Stone and MacKay’s Bonnie Doon home. I was greeted by one of the cutest and friendliest puppies, named Leyton, and we sat down and enjoyed beers around the bar which Stone and MacKay constructed this summer.
Stone and MacKay make up two thirds of the distinct and charming transatlantic folk rock band, 100 Mile House. Marsh is also a musician, a talented country singer-songwriter, and an active member of the music industry and community in Alberta. After some epic parties were held in the garage, the three joined forced to begin a new venue: Last Call Garage Bar.
They have not christened their new venture with any shows, but have planned a concert series: The Hangover Series of 2014, which consist of four monthly Sunday shows. The first of the bunch will feature CFMA-winning singer-songwriter Lucas Chaisson (Cochrane) on February 16th and is sponsored by Yellowhead Brewery. Cover will include two beers (beer will not be sold at the venue, but admission will always include beers from various sponsors).
Folk/roots singer Brooke Wylie (Calgary) is set to play on March 16th and roots artist, JJ Shiplett (Calgary), is on the bill on April 13th. Their May 11th performance falls on Mother’s Day and audience members are encouraged to bring their mothers along to enjoy the hunky talents of old school country artist T. Buckley (Calgary).
The inspiration for the venue, in part, came out of a house concert tour that 100 Mile House did last year through Home Routes. “We played 13 house shows in 14 days… We played Ye Olde Jar Bar in Medicine Hat. That venue is in a garage and it was one of the most fun shows that we have ever played. There were 70 people in there and it looks like… not like this… like this garage will in 10 years. So many things plastered on the walls. We were so grateful to all of the people who opened their homes to us.” After the tour, the duo joined forced with Marsh, who has experience throwing shows and who has done design work and other things.
Supporting touring artists is a main part of Last Call Garage Bar’s philosophy: “We want to reach out to artists outside of the community and support touring acts. We want to encourage a relationship between Calgary and Edmonton. Calgary bands can have a hard time playing shows here,” says Marsh.
“We played some house concerts our first Ontario tour. If it wasn’t for that, we probably would have played to no one,” adds Stone.
“There aren’t many listening room venue in Edmonton. At house concerts people generally listen,” adds MacKay.
“Ideally this is the stepping stone to play the venues here. The idea isn’t to have people play here instead of the Artery, or something. [The idea is to] play here to an audience of 30 or something, then next time to play at a larger venue,” says Stone.
True to their philosophy, all proceeds from the door go to the artists and each show has a local beer sponsor lined up. Tickets are $15 per show or $40 for the season. All season ticket holders are also entered to win a swag bag with merchandise and albums from all performing artists.
For more information on Last Call Garage Bar, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or check them out on Facebook. 100 Mile House will be playing at Wunderbar (Edmonton) on February 10th.
Words and photo by Jenna Lee Williams