Bands looking at alternatives as tours cancelled

After OSAC cancels all performances for 2020-21 season:

August 6, 2020, 4:31 pm
Victor van der Merwe Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Craig and Suzanne Bignell of Over the Moon

Due to Covid-19 The Moosomin and District Art Council (MADAC) along with the Organization of Saskatchewan Art Councils decided to cancel the 2020-21 season.

“As we all face this pandemic together the OSAC board and staff felt that the responsible action at this time was to postpone the 2020/2021 season to ensure the safety off all who are involved at presenting a performance in nearly forty communities as well as audience members. In over 50 years of touring Performing Arts in Saskatchewan, OSAC has never been forced to cancel an entire season, but these are truly extraordinary times. We hope to be able to continue “Bringing The Arts To You” in the Fall of 2021,” said Kevin Korchinski.

This decision not only impacts the members of the art councils around Saskatchewan, but touring musicians and live acts that were slated to perform this year. Acts like Over the Moon, Blue Moon Marquee and the Bromantics, has to find something else to do with their fall.

Over the Moon
Over the Moon is a duo made up of professional musicians Suzanne and Craig Bignell out of Chauvin, Alberta,

“We met on a recording session and kind of fell and love and now we are trying our own (musical) thing,” says Craig Bignell.

The OSAC Provincial Showcase that happens in October gives artists a chance to play for representatives of Art Councils across the province. Those acts that are selected get to perform all over the province in tours organized by OSAC.

“They (OSAC), makes it worth while to come there (Saskatchewan) and do a series of shows. We got 23 shows from that showcase. OSAC cancelled all the shows for this coming fall and the spring, but they are going to try and make some smaller shows happen in the spring with some groups that can perform as a duo, so we might get some of our shows back,” says Bignell.

Although their tour that would have brought them to Moosomin and other towns has been cancelled, Over the Moon is keeping busy.

“We just signed a world wide record deal just a while ago. We have a recording studio at home and we are recording our new album. We also do recordings for other artists.”

The duo is also performing in their province of Alberta.

“We are doing more and more outside house concerts. We also played the Ironwood in Calgary and it is thee place to play for acoustic musicians and we played for four nights,” says Bignell.
The band is keeping busy, but they are still disappointed that the showcase tour is not happening this year.
“It’s a real drag, we applied for that showcase for four years and we finally got in and the people seemed to really like us. We were really excited to do it as a trio. We now have another multi instrument member and now it is all gone,” says Bignall.

Al and Jessamine Cardinal of Blue Moon Marquee

Blue Moon Marquee
The other duo that was to come and perform in Saskatchewan was Blue Moon Marquee.

“We basically came sliding into home plate just as the lockdown happened,” says Jessamine Cardinal.

This forced break from touring and performing turns out to have come at a very good time in the group’s schedule. They had been talking about taking it slower with touring for a few years now.

“We have been steady on the road for almost 9 years with no more than three weeks of consecutive sleeps in one bed. That might be just away for a night or two sometimes, but nonetheless,” says Cardinal.

She goes on to explain that they have been extremely busy for most of this decade.

“For the past six and a half years it has been especially hectic with five European tours, touring across Canada probably eight times, going all over the states and even up to Inuvik. We have also put out three full length albums and one live EP since 2014,” says Cardinal.

When the lockdown happened Blue Moon Marquee saw it as a chance to take a well deserved break. Suddenly there was time to do all those activities that required more than just three weeks in nine years at home.

“We have been spending lots of time in the rivers and ocean. I love gardening so there has been plenty of that and Al is building vintage Triumph motorcycles that we both love riding.”

As the two members recharge, they found their creative juices flowing again and they wasted no time to get back in the studio.

“We are working on the new album which (guitarist) Duke Robillard will play on and produce,” says Cardinal.

The crazy schedule of a touring band can sometimes force members to put health issues on hold.

This has been the case for Cardinal as she has recently underwent her fourth abdominal surgery, but this time it was at home and with a far less hectic schedule to keep, she can now take all the time she needs to recover.

There are a few performances coming up this year, but most of the time will be spend relaxing and recording.

“We are doing a few satellite sets and will be performing a few social distances venues in the Fall. We are going to really focus on writing and getting our studio together,” says Cardinal.

Going forward, she says that there has been a few lessons learned from this forced pause in their schedule.

“We are definitely going to focus on a less manic pace of playing and touring. As much as we love music and performing, it is an exhausting and dangerous job with all the intense travel. There is more to life,” says Cardinal.

Blue Moon Marquee hopes to be back in Moosomin in the fall of 2021 if all goes well.

The Bromantics left to right: Kurt Gillett, Justin Hauck, Gregg Gower, Tim Lynchuk, Robert Haakenson,
Jim Mitchell.

The Bromantics
Robert Haakenson,Tim Lynchuk, Jim Mitchell, Kurt Gillett, Justin Hauck and Gregg Gower who make up the The Bromantics from Moose Jaw, is holding out hope.

“We had a bunch of OSAC dates lined up, but those weren’t until March, 2021 so we are still crossing our fingers that things may change although it is a small hope,” says Haakenson.

As for 2020, they also went on a forced break.

“Our entire summer has been cancelled or re-booked, which is challenging for us because we are already booked two years in advance at this point, so re-bookings are getting pushed significantly further back,” says Haakenson.

With over 20 shows booked just through OSAC alone, this is proving to be the biggest challenge that the cancelled season has presented to the band. Especially since this past October was there first time they performed for the Provincial Showcase.

“We were one of the last acts to perform. We were sitting in the front row looking at each other and thinking ‘How did we get here?’ But clearly we put on some show that people were drawn to,” says Haakenson.

Although things seem bleak, the Bromantics have an advantage over other bands that preformed at the showcase.

“We were the only band from the showcase that was actually based out of Saskatchewan, every other band at the show case was based out of Alberta or B.C or another Canadian province, so they are less likely to get a re-booking.

As for now, the band that performed in Moosomin at a Shrine Club fundraiser last November, is taking it easy. Even getting together to practice has been tough.

“There are certain precautions we have to take, because some of our members are what you might consider more at risk than others,” Haakenson explains.

All the members are family guys, so most of the pandemic has been spent at home. This is not to say that there has been no band activity. Like Over the Moon and Blue Moon Marquee, the Bromantics are using this time to be creative.

“We have taken the opportunity to start writing. That was something we were looking for time and energy to do and the pandemic gave us ample time, and coffee gave us enough energy,” Haakenson explains.