Change is gonna come!
The OFC has been an Ottawa Institution for nearly four decades. During this time, many students have learned their craft here and gone on to other things. One such student was Alanis Morissette who rose to stardom in the mid 90’s.
Arthur McGregor opened the Folklore Centre back in 1976 as primarily an educational facility. “This is not just a business, it’s my life,” says the 61 year old owner. “I’ve grown up through these years, I have lost my business partner and my wife over these years. My kids have grown up through it. This is my life.”
For over 38 years he’s managed to keep this business a float despite economic down turns, shortages in student registrations, changes in people’s online habits and just the plain fact that people don’t shop in person and spend local dollars like they used too. In addition to instrument sales and lessons, it also hosts workshops with visiting musicians, supports benefit concerts and provides event sponsorship.
However, this year, things are dire for the center. “I was at the cross roads of deciding whether to close up shop or fight to save this community institution, so we decided to give it a go and not give up just yet” he says. “Lessons and sales have decreased since Christmas. The last couple of years have seen a huge change in the music store industry, music purchasing has changed, music instruction has changed (due to online presence of tutorial instruction). ”
“Going forward, the OFC plans on changing the way it does business i.e.: giving online instruction as an option, we have to change with the times, folk music is still alive and well in our community, we just have to think of different ways of delivering that music” he notes.
Enter Bill Garrett, friend of McGregor’s and co-owner of the respected Toronto-based folk and roots label, Borealis Records. He suggested a benefit and McGregor agreed. Garrett gathered up a stellar line-up of musicians for the benefit including Juno award winning Lynn Miles, also James Keelaghan, Finest Kind with James Stephens, Sneezy Waters, Terry Tufts, Kathryn Briggs and more. The benefit will also feature an amazing silent auction as well.
Ann Downey, a banjo teacher at the OFC who is also a member of Finest Kind, a band playing at the benefit says “we’re definitely looking forward to helping out with this. We have all enjoyed being part of the Ottawa Folklore Centre’s musical community, independently and together over these many years. The audience can expect good harmonies on a wide-range of folk-roots-working people songs, delivered with good-natured humour” says Downey. For more information on the band check out their website: www.finestkind.ca
“The benefit has 600 tickets printed and 500 tickets have already been sold” says McGregor. ”Donations have been pouring in from all over the country from a music store in BC to a folk festival in Alberta and from a woman who I helped open her drum business 20 years ago. Local businesses including banks and other small shops have also stepped up to help. This shows me what the OFC means to our community and to people right across the country” he says.
The benefit concert and silent auction is July 31st, 2014 at the South minster United Church, 15 Aylmer Avenue.
Tickets are on sale at the Ottawa Folklore Center, 1111 Bank St. for $25.00 in advance.
Cugini is a Canadian punk dub step artist (influenced by Skrillex and Blink 182) and producer that has worked with Shawn Mendes, Victoria Duffield, Jerzee Tha Icon, Stereos, Marissa Emma (Crystalyne) , Deion Gill (W3 The Future) YMCM.
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Cugini is currently working towards releasing a new EP in September.
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