Stomping Grounds: The Times Change(d) High and Lonesome Club

Known for its hospitality, its Mexican food and housecoat collection, the Times Change(d) High and Lonesome Club is a venue that continues to draw good people to its doorstep.

If you can get in the door before it hits capacity, you’ll be privy to a scene that’s more like a house party then a formal gig. Shot glasses jingle in the back, a mega-phoned voice announces the act, 80-year-old men dance with young girls and sometimes anyone can jump on stage and start playing.

For the people who have played there, ate there, got drunk there, it has a lasting effect that will keep you coming back.

For the past year, University of Winnipeg oral history student, DJ, musician and Times patron Kevin McLean has collected interviews with members of the iconic Winnipeg venue and is set to release the history project to the world.

I recently spoke with McLean about his project. As opposed to some other long-time venues McLean says, “The history is on the walls in that place. It’s all over everything.”

Times newcomers routinely get lost staring at the walls full of posters, street signs and other puzzling objects. Add to it the mystery behind the venue’s name and the always quaky, sometimes cliquey musicians that inhabit it and you’ve got yourself an intriguing tale to be told.

The Times has also had its fair share of drama. Before it was the Times Change(d) it was the Times Cafe, battling the Blue Note and the Windsor for blues bar supremacy in Winnipeg.

Then came future owner/operator and housecoat enthusiast John Scoles, who changed the Times forever when he led a rabble of Times patrons against the new owners who threatened to turn the venue into a sports bar.

However, the Times is not so much dependent on a building but the music that inhabits it. In truth, the Times is really a musician’s venue.

From bluesman Big Dave McLean to folk sensation Nathan, many artists call the Times their second home. Romi Mays, the D-Rangers, the Perpetrators, Ridley Bent, Andrew Neville, Scott Nolan and countless others from here and around the world have credited their High & Lonesome Club experience with some of their success and most of their good times.

With the support of the University of Winnipeg’s Oral History Department, the history of the Times Change(d) High & Lonesome Club with songs and stories by all good people will be presented on Thursday, October 6 at 8:30 pm.

The event will be held at (where else?) the Times. The night will feature excerpts of interviews with Times performers, proprietors and patrons as well as performances by Andrew Neville and the Poor Choices and the Guerrillas of Soul.

Read more about Kevin McLean and his project in the Thursday, Oct. 6 issue of The Uniter.