Editorial: Stand up, put your hands in the air

Trent Ernst, Editor

As you may or may not be aware, I am a musician.

When I went to college, trying to answer the proverbial question “what do you want to do with your life?” Dee Snyder’s answer: I want to rock, was near the top of my list.

But one had to learn, yes, even to be a rock star, and so I decided that I was going to go to Douglas College and give my two passions a year each. My first year at college was spent in the English department, learning to be a better writer (no, seriously, I used to be worse). I loved it, but I got to the end of the year wondering what I could do with an English degree. I didn’t like coffee, so Starbucks barista really didn’t appeal to me, and the other option was becoming a teacher. Having been a student, I thought what I would do with twenty of me in a room and decided that wasn’t an appealing prospect.

So, I started my year as a music student. I was a terrible music student. I was a self-taught guitarist, and spent a few years learning to play drums in the school band, but playing drums in my high school band typically means counting 34 bars, then ting-ing a triangle. Reading musical notation for a jazz drum kit was well beyond my ken, as I discovered when I gamely tried out for the jazz band.

So, after a rather depressing semester learning the rudiments of music theory, I looked at my future. I would need at least a couple more years of basic theory to get my chops up to where I could study college level music. And then another four years, and at the end of that? Again, Starbucks or teaching were the two obvious choices, and again, I wasn’t all that entranced by either choice. I wanted to play music, not listen to a bunch of snotty-nosed brats go blat, squoink toot!

So I abandoned both careers, choosing instead to go to the college’s professional writing program. And my music career? Well, I was happy playing noise-rock with a group of friends and starting down the path that would lead me to a glorious career of community reporter.

But my dreams didn’t die when I moved to Tumbler Ridge, so for the last decade, I have been playing, on and off, with Ray Proulx (now Teck’s Community Liason) and a rotating group of other musicians that has slowly been pared down to Blaine Broderick (TRSS principal).

We’ve played a couple of small shows since becoming Downwater Union (formerly Heavy Things), but this last weekend marked our first big show in town (if you can call the TR Legion a big venue) since forming as this line-up.

I’ve basically sacrificed my dreams of being a capital RAWK rock star, but I still like to get out and play in front of people. And while there was a good crowd, I’ve been thinking once again about how many times I hear people say “there’s nothing to do,” and then, when there is something to do, nobody shows up.

No, I’m not trying to guilt you into coming out to our next show. It’s the plays put on by the Arts club, by the students. It’s the annual Banff Mountain Film Festival. It’s the sporting events and the coffee houses and all the other things that happen around here.

The trouble is, if nobody show up to these plays, these concerts, the performers will be less willing to do it again, and someday, there will truly be nothing happening around Tumbler Ridge. Okay, so we’re not the Hip, and you’re not going to see George Clooney on stage in Tumbler Ridge any time soon. That doesn’t mean that these performances are not equally as valid. That the performers are any less passionate. There are some awesome musicians and some killer DJs here who want to play for you, if only you’d show up.

So here’s to the local arts and artists. We’re quickly coming up on Arts and Culture week (it’s happening in April), and I encourage you to get out to a local concert. Check out a local play. Next week, Dawson Creek’s Flees from Bears is at the Legion, and there’s rumours of a concert happening the weekend after that, too. Show up. Listen to some tunes. Enjoy, and maybe someday, when Downwater Union wins their third Grammy, you can say “I saw them back when…”

Just sayin’.