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A touch of twang

Upper Village venue creates a new 'locals' living room' to help musicians showcase their talents

The music biz isn't easy to break into. Sure, lots of people can strum away around a campfire or in the privacy of their own homes, but it takes much more commitment - and sometimes a lot of luck - to land a gig playing in front of a real crowd.

In a town like Whistler, finding the right audience can be something of a challenge: busking isn't permitted and there's already a pretty solid roster of longtime, established musicians who play regularly in the smaller, more intimate venues. But things are looking up for Whistler musicians who are trying to get their feet wet with a live audience, thanks to a longtime local bartender.

Josh Fahey has lived in the area, on and off, since 1996 and has worked at the legendary (now closed) live music venue The Boot as well as the Fitzsimmons Pub (formerly known as BBK's) for years. An avid music lover, he recently decided to take on the responsibility of organizing a brand-new weekly night at the Fitz - Twangin' Tuesdays - to showcase some of the town's newest up-and-coming talent.

"I was used to going to The Boot Sundays and Mondays for the live music and stuff like that, " Fahey said. "And then I started working at The Boot, and then The Boot got taken down and certain venues like the GLC and the Crystal and Dusty's and Merlin's and stuff like that have filled that gap that The Boot left.

"I've always just loved the live music scene and wanted to see more of it."

Fahey noticed that while some of the more established acts in town don't seem to have a problem finding a place to play, it can be a real challenge for anyone new to town, or people who are starting out in their musical careers.

Though there are already a few regular open mic sessions held around town, Fahey says they can become almost like a competition. Instead, he wanted to host something a bit more refined, vetting all the performers beforehand to ensure that everyone who gets up on stage actually has a solid skill set and voice.

"I get a feel for where they're going and what they're interested in, and then they can kind of get some confidence and comfortability in front of 20, 30 people, not 100."

Twangin' Tuesdays offers a softer entry into the world of live performance in front of a more intimate crowd of friends and family, a much less intimidating experience.

"I just want it to kick off. I just want people to get a chance," he said.

Well known local musicians like Sean Rose, Joel McIsaac, Dave Morris and Wes and Jay Makepeace all got their feet wet in Whistler by playing gigs in the cozy Upper Village digs.

"Some of those guys had kind-of careers before, but this was one of the venues that allowed them to be consistent," said Fahey.

So far, they've seen Adam Buschlen and a trio of performers from Squamish, Just A Little Jillary, take the stage during Twangin' Tuesdays.

Though the name may sound a bit country to some, all genres are welcome.

"It's just twangin' on the guitar, right? So Twangin' Tuesdays, basically. I'm trying to coin it also as a locals' living room, because it is kind of like a living room in here."

So far, both the performers and the crowds who have come out to check out the new evening have embraced the concept.

"They loved it and it was really neat because everyone started singing along to Adam's songs and then Hilary sort of got out of her shell and started playing and interacting with the people. People were just ecstatic!

"It's totally wide open, it's just based on a couple plug-ins, acoustic-ish," Fahey said.

Fahey expects a few performers from Pemberton to be taking part in the coming weeks, and he is on the lookout for more talent. Anyone interested in taking part in Twangin' Tuesdays should head up to the next night and talk to Fahey in person.