Once a month, the voices drifting out into the night air at Pynelogs Cultural Centre might not be as polished as the lineup of headline artists who pass through on tours, but they are earnest, and gaining experience, and energetic.
Fresh Fridays is an opportunity for budding musicians to open up, test out their voice in front of an appreciative audience, and allow their music a chance to grow and flourish.
“Fresh Fridays is a monthly event that gives young musicians a chance to perform music in front of a supportive crowd in a great venue with professional sound and lights,” explains Oso Simple, local musician and Fresh Fridays coordinator. “The aim of Fresh Fridays is to make performing fun and inviting for up-and-coming musicians as well as to showcase the young talent in the Valley. It’s a heartwarming thing to witness; it builds community spirit and can inspire young people who see their peers performing (and having a blast) to take similar chances to share their gifts or even begin to play music themselves.”
Oso Simple is a local guitar teacher. A number of years ago he opted to launch an open mic event for his students instead of instituting a traditional recital, which would allow his students to perform in a more real-life and casual atmosphere. When he was learning, he had a similar opportunity to perform regularly at an open mic event and he was keen to create a similarly positive place in Invermere.
He has seen great moments from the up-and-coming musicians at Fresh Fridays.
“I have seen very shy kids who just enjoyed playing music in the comfort and emotional safety of their own home finally perform and be thrilled that sharing their passion and taking a risk felt really good. I’ve seen other musicians who like the idea of performing and use the opportunity every month to hone their craft and build their confidence. They almost treat it like ‘game day’ – a good reason to practice harder.”
Invermere resident Brenden Kanan, 15, has performed at Fresh Fridays on a regular basis for the past three years.
“I like that it gives me a chance to perform in front of other people and learn from watching and talking to other musicians,” shares Brenden. “It’s a really fun atmosphere and people should really come down and watch or play.”
He gives credit to Oso Simple, his guitar teacher for the past six years, for the performance skills he has learned and honed at Fresh Fridays.
“None of this would be possible without him teaching us all in such a great atmosphere,” comments Brenden. “I found that it (Fresh Fridays) really helps you stay calm when you have to perform for other people. It also gives you something to work towards so you can learn a song before the concert.”
Oso Simple agrees that there is something found in an open mic atmosphere that helps hone a musician’s skills.
“Most professional musicians will tell you of the invaluable experience you get from playing at open mics and jam nights as well as the wonderful connections you make,” he reports.
Fresh Fridays is open to any youth musician to perform, and for anyone to attend and enjoy. There are typically anywhere from five to 15 performances per event. The next open mic night is this Friday, December 1st, 7:30-10 p.m. at the Pynelogs Cultural Centre, located adjacent to Kinsmen Beach in Invermere at 1720 4th Avenue. Entrance is by donation. For more information, contact Oso Simple at 250-270-2327.