Strapped for cash but oozing style

Low Budget Productions moves its Live at the… series to the Garrick for the third installation

Johnny Marlow is a one man army who gets by with a little help from his friends. Supplied

What promotes local artists from all genres while also showcasing spectacular local venues and broadcasting it all on local television? While you might guess that such an entity only exists in long forgotten myths, this thing is real. This thing is called Live at the West End.

Except that it’s really not called that and it no longer happens at the West End Cultural Centre (WECC).

The Low Budget Productions project kicks off its third season later this month at the Garrick Theatre. Johnny Marlow, owner of Low Budget Productions and creator of the Live at the… series, says it was always supposed to change venues, despite two consecutive years at the WECC.

“I never really wanted to stay in one venue for a long time,” Marlow says. “It’s a matter of spreading it around. Not that I bring a lot of money to those places, but exposure perhaps.”

The show is currently only available on MTS TV Winnipeg on Demand, but the CBC ran the show as part of its replacement schedule over the summer in 2009.

This show is not about indefinite expansion. Marlow makes it for a specifically Manitoban audience, though even within that demographic the viewer statistics matter very little to him.

“It’s more of a labour of love kind of thing and I hope someone else appreciates it,” Marlow says. “I fully understand the limits of what this show can be.”

The third series will feature an array of local talent, including Don Amero and Keith and Renée. They will join an impressive list of artists previously on the show, such as JP Hoe, Cat Jahnke, JD Edwards and Dr. Rage and the Uppercuts.

Marlow makes no distinctions for potential talent based on genre or style, showing everything from rock to country to classical.

While he has been approached by a few higher profile media outlets asking for rights to re-broadcast the show, the eclectic group of artists and styles on the show isn’t conducive to mainstream consumption.

And Marlow says in those situations it’s all or nothing.

“I believe you should always be exposed to all forms of music,” Marlow says. “Winnipeg is known for a certain kind of music, but like any other city we run the whole gamut of styles here.”

Live at the… earned LBP two consecutive nominations for the BreakOut West Awards in the multimedia category. Marlow acknowledges his partners at Absurd Machine for their work on the technical side of things.

“The show wouldn’t be what it is without their participation,” he says.

While Live at the… is his only completed project thus far, Marlow says there are a few others in the works for Low Budget Productions. He wants to explore the unseen elements of the artist’s process.

“Most people know about their music or their favourite artist based on a live performance or a song that they’re listening to on CD, MP3 or whatever,” he says. “My fascination is for them to actually understand the creative process that goes into that kind of thing.”

Published in Volume 66, Number 7 of The Uniter (October 12, 2011)

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