Local musicians compete in Whistler Music Search 

Long-running event takes over the Crystal every Thursday until Oct. 24 finals

click to enlarge Conor Fitzpatrick won the first week of the Whistler Music Search and will advance on to the finals on Oct. 24. Photo by Alivia Nadeau
  • Conor Fitzpatrick won the first week of the Whistler Music Search and will advance on to the finals on Oct. 24. Photo by Alivia Nadeau

When Meaghan Mullaly first stepped on stage at the Crystal Lounge for the Whistler Music Search nearly a decade ago, it wasn't necessarily to win.

Back in 2008, she had only been in Whistler for the summer season and was desperately seeking accommodations for the winter ahead.

"This was my first time dealing with the housing crisis," she recalls. "I entered hoping to find a place to live. I figured there'd be a lot of people there and it was a good opportunity to reach a lot of people at once."

In the end, "I didn't win—but I ended up finding a place."

Fast forward to 2019, and Mullaly, better known as Lozen, one of Whistler's top hip-hop acts, is hosting that same contest she hoped would put a roof over her head.

The well-established local music competition takes place the first four Thursdays in October with finalists selected each week to compete in the finals on Oct. 24. First place is $1,000 and a Whistler Blackcomb ski pass. The second-place prize is an acoustic electric guitar and gigs at the Crystal Lounge.

But the contest offers more than just prizes, Lozen says. "I let the artists know you shouldn't think about winning or losing," she adds. "You're playing your music, you're making your contacts there as well. I look at it as a scouting opportunity."

While she served as a judge two years ago, this time around Lozen is happy to leave the tough choices to this year's panel, which includes local musician JennaMae, Pique reporter Joel Barde, and Amelia Browne, programming events coordinator at Arts Whistler.

"It's kind of nice, to be honest. Everyone has different tastes. Music is very subjective," she says. "I will say in the year I was a judge, it wasn't unanimous."

The first night of the contest took place on Thursday, Oct. 3 with singer-songwriter Conor Fitzpatrick winning week one. "I've seen him play a couple of times, but that was the best I had seen him play," Lozen says. "He did one medley that was eight minutes—I didn't even realize it was a medley. I was like, 'Is this Carly Rae Jepsen? I don't really like her, but I can get down with this!'" she says.

The first week was all solo acoustic singer-songwriters, but the following weeks will see more variety on stage, she says. "We want to have a balance of artists—some acoustic solo stuff, a couple of bands, duos, trios, live loopers. There's a balance of different types of artists up there," she says.

And, of course, the drama of a competition makes the evening fun for crowds too. While only one musician or band is chosen each week to go on to the finals, another who didn't make the cut will be chosen from all three weeks to compete in the finals as a wildcard.

"Anything can happen," Lozen says.

Either way, from her experience, the music search is a good way to grow as an artist. "It's good to do stuff that makes you feel uncomfortable," she says. "If I waited until I was ready to go up there, I'd still be waiting. For me, it's about stepping out of your comfort zone."

Catch the Whistler Music Search on Oct. 10, 17 and 24 at 9 p.m. On Oct. 24, the finals, there will be a $5 cover charge.

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