Virtual benefit being held for local music venue

Damn The Torpedoes are (from left) Riley Hastings, Joel Leonhardt, Johannes Lodewyks, Kevin McLean, and Marty Lafreniere. The band has taken the fifth annual PettyFest virtual as a fundraiser for Times Change(d) High & Lonesome Club in Winnipeg. Joey Senft / JsenftPhotography

Share Adjust Comment Print

The fifth annual PettyFest is going virtual with the hope that there comes a time when local music venues can stop saying Don’t Come Around Here No More and actually see A Face in the Crowd.

“Independent music venues have felt many of the brunt ends of this pandemic. They may be only one of many that need our help, but wow do they need our help,” said musician Johannes Lodewyks. “It’s scary when you think what the world might look like when we come out on the other end, especially for the artistic world. We need those venues to come out on the other side with us.”

Lodewyks and his group Damn The Torpedoes recorded a set at Times Change(d) High & Lonesome Club on Saturday night, and are releasing the performance live on Facebook on Tuesday night at 7 p.m., on what would’ve been Rock and Roll Hall of Fame musician Tom Petty’s 70th birthday, as a sort of “pledge drive” with proceeds going to support the club.

Lodewyks (SubCity, The Noble Thiefs) and the rest of the group of industry veterans are suggesting donating a cover charge or two, or whatever you’re able at either or via e-transfer to

An acoustic guitar with the words Save Our Venues sits on a stand at the recording of the virtual performance of local tribute act Damn The Torpedoes at Times Change(d) High & Lonesome Club in Winnipeg on Saturday night. The band has taken the fifth annual PettyFest virtual as a fundraiser for the club. Joey Senft / JsenftPhotography

“I said this during the livestream and I’ll say it again: They’re such a big part of a vibrant city like Winnipeg. We may not need them to live, but we need them to make life worth living. Those Saturday night gigs, whether you’re a performer or you’re a spectator, that’s something to sludge through the work week for. It’s going to be very necessary when we come out on the other end to have that release.”

While bars and nightclubs were hit with further restrictions that’ll keep the doors closed for at least another two weeks, Times has been closed to the public for all but one night in the last seven months.

Some shows were put on at The Beer Can next door, an outdoor beer garden that kept some employees working and provided the odd gig for its unofficial roster of talent. But the only show inside the honky tonk was a performance from Sean Burns & Lost Country, who recorded a digital album in the empty building during the summer, with proceeds from its sale going to the club, and then took the stage in mid-September to help get the word out.

Times Change(d) High & Lonesome Club is seen Wednesday, June 11, 2014. Brian Donogh / Winnipeg Sun

“Even though we’ve been closed for seven months, to kind of close officially again, amazingly, it did effect us,” John Scoles said.

The appreciative club owner said federal rent relief is key to keeping the club alive over the winter, but this sort of effort helps “keep a little bit of rhythm.”

“Our capacity, if and when we are able to do this again, will be lower, for sure. I want to be able to pay my staff, and I want to be able to pay these bands. And I don’t want this to be a perpetual thing where it’s me that needs the support and not them,” Scoles said. “So I certainly can’t be starting at zero. We need to be able to maintain some sort of preparatory kind of fund, so when we get the chance to do this, to be able to take care of people in a reasonable way.

“I think that’s going to be a real big issue in the entertainment business going forward. Everyone will have a reason why musicians should get paid less, and that’s not something that I can engage in. So if people want places like the Times Change(d) to keep doing what they’ve done and keep being that driving force for artists, then that’s what this fundraiser is all about.”