The Acoustic Showcase: Still Bringing the Music to Big Canoe

By Colin Bergen

It happens on the first Thursday night of the month. Residents and guests from all over Big Canoe come to the Beach Club to watch a group of musicians pour their soul out on the stage. Most of these players are no stranger to Big Canoe – in fact, most are our very own residents.

The Acoustic Showcase has been a tradition for more than a decade in Big Canoe, and it has grown substantially since it began.

Before the showcase was the established tradition, there was a more loosely run “open mic” event at 7 p.m. Mondays at the old Sconti Clubhouse.

Local musicians such as Bill Pound, who is playing at the Veranda at 7 p.m. on Friday, July 29, and Art Shand “would be playing most of the music, but we invited anyone who wanted to come up to the ‘stage’ to have a go,” recalls Art Shand, who is still involved in the showcase.

After the Sconti Clubhouse burned in 2006, the event was rebranded as the Acoustic Jam and held at the Big Canoe Lodge on the first Thursday of every month. It proved very successful at attracting performers. Perhaps too successful.

Jammin’ out at the Lodge.

“It almost became unmanageable,” Art says, “and it ended after 10 p.m., which is Big Canoe midnight.”

As a result, the event was limited to the 10-performer structure that’s in place today, which allows acts to sign up to perform on a first-come-first-serve basis. The increased interest sparked the creation of the Acoustic Showcase Committee.

In order to accommodate the growing audience, the showcase eventually moved to the Swim Club where it has remained since.

Brad Morgan, a member of the band Suburban Road, serves on the committee alongside fellow performers Tom Kilpatrick and Bob Knysz. He helps to manage the showcase and ensure it runs as smoothly as possible.

“We have some really good players,” Brad says. “Some unknowns. You never know who you’re going to see there.”

However, “rule 1 is to stick with local talent. But we will reach out to people outside if there aren’t enough volunteers.”

Brad also explained that they try to keep the showcase to no more than 90 minutes. Though the event is now better managed than in the early days, the committee still leaves room for the unexpected.

“Spontaneous collaboration happens,” he says. A performer waiting for his or her turn on the stage might have “an idea that hits them. They quickly get a band together and wing it.”

Whether planned or on the fly, the Acoustic Showcase is an incredible asset for Big Canoe, says Art.

“I am certain the Acoustic Showcase has been one of the greatest community interest events in the history of Big Canoe,” he explains. “Not only did it provide a venue for the fabulous collective talent we have here but it brought together many like-minded musicians who have since collaborated to the benefit of attendees.”

The showcase has strings to spare!

The next Acoustic Showcase is at 7 p.m. on Aug 4 at the Beach Club. For more information, visit the Acoustic Showcase Facebook page or contact Barb Knysz at to get on the mailing list.

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