Winnipeg’s music scene loves a midnight multi-band lineup. Shows start late and feature numerous acts playing their music until the early morning. Lucky 7, a new Winnipeg concert series, aims to put a different spin on how Winnipeg’s arts and culture scene engages with time and curation.
Local musician Ashley Au founded Lucky 7 last year and hosted the first concert in February, featuring three 20-minute sets: one by experimental classical duo Savant Flaneur and one by local folk duo Gabriela Ocejo and Matt Foster, followed by an experimental collaborative set between the two projects.
Au says she was inspired to start the series by her years as a gigging musician.
“With Lucky 7, my initial idea was rooted in my work as a sessional player and playing with a lot of different bands across various genre lines,” she says.
“I’ll play with hip-hop bands, country musicians, funk bands. I’ll play really strange soundscape-y things for performance art, and what I find is that there are so many talented artists that work in all these genres that seem like islands, because they exist within the archipelago of the music scene, but there’s not a lot of cross-traffic between them. There’s so much potential for collaboration that hasn’t been tapped yet.”
Gabriela Ocejo says the one-night-only nature of how the bands are presented is a rare and exciting format.
“The one-time aspect of the show is really special,” she says.
“We had three rehearsals, and there was so much brainstorming. It was so creatively engaging. Having it be a one-time thing without the pressure of turning it into a long-term project is a very healthy way to make music with people.”
Au says she also wanted to create a series that could start and end earlier. Doors were at 7 p.m., and the show began half an hour later. She says this setup benefits audiences and artists alike.
“I’ve found that in most cities I’ve been to that have a super vibrant gigging scene, arts and culture scene, nightlife scene, (they have) early shows. All across Europe, there’s an early/late show kind of situation. Patrons usually get off work at 5 or 6. They go straight to a restaurant. Then they head to check out a show, and then they check out maybe another show after, maybe they go to a club, go dancing.”
Being able to check out multiple shows in an evening lets audiences explore more local music and also lets artists do multiple gigs a night, as well as giving those with early work schedules or kids the ability to engage in local arts and culture. Au says she hopes that an early/late show format will catch on in the city.
“I want Winnipeg to start doing things like that,” she says.
“It makes it a lot more possible to make a living off your art here. There are a lot of people who, regardless of whether they are living off their art, they are consummate artists, and they deserve an opportunity to make a living.”
Lucky 7 returns in May. Follow them on Facebook @lucky7 for details on dates and featured artists.
Published in Volume 73, Number 19 of The Uniter (February 28, 2019)