Whistler Music Search, the opportunity of a lifetime 

Careers are made in this annual event at the Crystal Lounge

click to enlarge FILE PHOTO BY ANDREW MITCHELL - Team Jim Webb Whistler Music Search organizer Jon Shrier (left) with the 2013 winners, The Jim Webb Experience. The band has since been renamed Wolf Party.
  • File Photo by Andrew Mitchell
  • Team Jim Webb Whistler Music Search organizer Jon Shrier (left) with the 2013 winners, The Jim Webb Experience. The band has since been renamed Wolf Party.

You thought that October was about pumpkins and prepping for the ski season? Nah... well, maybe for some people.

But if you are Whistler band, singer, DJ or other music maker, October is about something far more important — the annual Whistler Music Search.

For three Thursdays next month — Oct. 2, 9 and 16 — competitors will rock out at the Crystal Lounge, with the winner from each night advancing to a spot in the final on Thursday, Oct. 23. A wildcard performer from one of the three nights also performs.

Organizer and previous winner Jon Shrier says they are looking for strong live acts.

"We're looking for good talent, but you don't have to be the best musician or the strongest singer, just an overall good, solid live act. Come out and do your best," he says.

"The performers come in all shapes and sizes. I'd like to think we're welcoming them all. What I'm telling people is 'Give me your best 15 minutes.'"

All he asks is that the rappers don't swear.

Prizes this year include a guitar, opportunities to perform at The Crystal Lounge and a membership at the WMN Studio in Function Junction.

Singer-songwriters Rachel Thom and Dave Morris are among the previous winners.

For those wanting to take part, applications and further details can be picked up at The Crystal Lounge in Whistler Village.

The 2013 winner, Jim Webb, was a wildcard entry with his band, the Jim Webb Experience. Since winning, the band has been renamed Wolf Party. The other members are Greg Cossar, Arthur Barrietos and Andrew Crome.

"I had competed the year before and was runner-up. I was a wildcard that year as well," Webb says. "But last year I formed a band and that gave us the edge we needed to overcome the amazing talent that was there."

Webb says they are not competing in 2014, but he will definitely be in the audience.

Winning the competition has made a "big difference."

"We have that recognition around town," he says. "The band has grown a lot; we're playing a lot."

They are soon going into the studio to use the recording time won in last year's competition.

Shrier won the previous incarnation of the Whistler Music Search, the King or Queen of Song competition, in October 2008, and won Whistler's Battle of the Bands in March the same year.

The experience was life changing.

"Both those competitions had studio time (for the winners) and I was able to record my album as a result," he says.

His career has bloomed since, with last year representing Whistler and Canada, along with local musician Laura Nedelak, at the Zhangjiajie International Country Music Festival in China. The pair brought home the Best Singers award.

Up until he won the in 2008 competition, Shrier says he was focused on non-music jobs.

"I wasn't performing steadily, I was the supervisor of guest services for the mountain, and I did this on the side," he recalls.

"But (suddenly) I was getting calls from the Fairmont, and the next thing you know I performed 13 shows a week. I've been doing it steady since then."

Today, he also teaches privately and works for Club Intrawest.

"It (the competition) was definitely a stepping stone. Absolutely. And I was showcasing my original music, which was that much scarier back then," he says

"This isn't a battle of the bands as much as it is a coming together of music. We're rewarding those that are doing their stuff well that night.

"(For the winner) it is the case where everything is aligned on the night but not necessarily anyone who is better or worse. So not a competition so much as a musical gathering... whoever comes out on top, great. But everyone who does well I'm taking down to the radio station (Whistler FM)."

"The benefits are exposure, street credibility... musicians should participate for the chance to meet other musicians, reach a larger audience, and befriend guys like me who can put them into contact with other people, places and venues."

Jono Young, manager of The Crystal Lounge, says they are excited to be hosting it again.

"It's a great event for local musicians to come out of the woodwork and showcase their talents, perhaps for the first time. Each year, we always get a few new musicians that we didn't even know were in town," Young says.

"A lot of the musicians who come and play will get gigs through the winter, and it helps promote our seven-nights-a-week live music."

Young says this is the time of year when people are arriving here from all over the world. They may know little about Whistler's arts and music scene.

"Every fall a new crop of seasonal workers come rolling through and hopefully they bring their instruments with them," says Young.

Applications to take part and further details can be picked up at The Crystal Lounge in Whistler Village.

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