Mi Casa es Su Casa!

If you are involved with any of the many community-enhancing groups in Fernie—from The Arts Station to Fernie Search and Rescue—you know how much local businesses are asked to lend a helping hand. They are asked for a deal on space rental and cash. They are asked for door prizes and windows for posters. Like many here, I migrated to Fernie from a much larger city, and it’s interesting to note how much more local business is in tune with the culture of town than it is in places like Calgary or Vancouver. It’s impossible not to be, really. When you see the same customer or the same cashier every couple of days or every week, conversations crop up. The first time, it could be about the weather, but the next time it’s about the local production of Waiting for the Parade or the pesticide ban. Because of the ease of these kinds of conversations, taking the pulse of the community is a lot more natural.

When the Grand Central decided to offer itself up as a rehearsal space to local bands, the decision happened pretty organically. Anybody who has lived here for longer than a month knows that space of any kind is a premium. It’s hard to find a place to live, let alone one that will allow you to make a ton of noise on a drum kit. There are a couple of longstanding local bands like Big Bubba Tres and the Runs who have secure rehearsal digs, but where do some of the newer bands get together to hone their skills?

The Central’s manager Julie Comete posed that very question to one of her staff, Shred Kelly’s bassist Jordan Gerrous.

“He says, ‘Oh, in a room. And we’re pretty much playing on top of each other and we can’t really hear each other,’” Comete explains. “And I go, ‘you know what? This place is going to be empty all spring. Come and use it! Come and rehearse here.’”

She has approached some of the other local bands with the same proposal, and gotten interest from some. There’s a chance you could see Winter’s Son or From Scratch practice. All the bands need to do is invite a few friends who don’t mind having a couple of beers —just enough to cover some basic operating costs — and the Central stage is free for rehearsal, a place where musicians can bash away at the drums and amps can be turned up.

It might be too soon to say how these nights will end up taking shape, but obviously these won’t be formal gigs. They’ll be something a little different, where anybody interested can watch the process, to get a sense of how a group of musicians go from “We want to be a band” to “We’re ready to play a show in front of people.”

“I think that it’s fun to hear the other side of the band, and say, ‘how do they get to the show?’ And then you go, okay, well, they rehearse and they have to stop and maybe they get upset at each other and argue and ‘no, you should do that,’ and ‘that part—wow!’” Comete says. “They go through a lot to get to where they want to be on stage.

“I am curious to see what happens out of it,” she adds. “If it goes well, and there’re other bands that want to do it in the summer, sure! Summer, fall, and even in the winter, we have week nights that have been pretty dead.”

This concept isn’t limited to bands needing rehearsal space, either. Comete has already been approached by a couple of people wanting to organize other kinds of parties and events.
“That’s the feeling I want for the spring — it’s everybody’s living room.”