Islands musicians can get some extra perk now that the Haida Gwaii Coffeehouse is moving to a real coffee shop.
Queen B’s owner Dana Adams offered to host the monthly arts and music showcase at her café this fall after the previous venue, the Queen Charlotte Legion, was sold to make way a new fire hall.
“We’re very grateful to Dana, who has fully opened her arms to make it work,” says Caroline Shooner, a Queen Charlotte doctor and musician who for the last five years has staged the September to April coffeehouse with her partner Carey Bergman.
Normally held the last Friday of the month (with a break in December), the first Haida Gwaii Coffeehouse got bumped to Saturday, Oct. 1 to avoiding competing with the Sept. 30 royal visit by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
Breaking in the new, more intimate venue will be islands punks Jason Camp & The Posers, who billed the show as part of a break-up tour and promise “a night of love and internal struggle.”
Shooner said it was sad to lose the Legion — the former church has a stage and seats about 100 — but she is looking forward to a more stripped-down, New York-style coffeehouse at Queen B’s.
“It’s nice to change it up,” she said.
Shooner said Queen Charlotte has hosted a regular music and arts series for as long as anyone can remember. Frank Wall ran one for years before she and Bergman took it up in 2011.
Inspired by the Victoria Folk Music Society, Shooner decided to kick the nights off with a few open mic performers — poets, comics, and others as well as musicians.
Everyone who braves an open mic spot gets a chance to win a door prize, while feature performers are paid a small honorarium.
Entry is by donation, which is enough to pay the performers, the rent, and to cover the free coffee and tea — donated baked goods are also welcome.
“Right from the get-go, it seemed like something people were into,” said Shooner, who had hoped for maybe 20 people at the first show in 2011, but instead got a packed house for Ricardo Toledo.
The Haida Gwaii Arts Council provided a small grant then to start the series, but it has been self-sustaining ever since, and brings in performers from across the islands.
Shooner said the coffeehouse will keep an eye out for a larger venue that can host bigger bands and audiences, but for this season at least, the Haida Gwaii Coffeehouse will be happy to make its home at Queen B’s.
“Perhaps the quality of the coffee will go up a notch,” she said.