Mixed and matched
Band Swap to bring local musicians together for charity
Despite Jenn Bergen’s insistence that Band Swap Regina isn’t a cover for a Polymaths reunion, you just might be able to play alongside Bergen and the rest of her former bandmates at the end of the December.
Bergen and fellow organizer Kathleen Wilson are bringing Saskatoon’s popular Band Swap to the Queen City. It’s an opportunity for local musicians, both established and aspiring, to swap band members and play a benefit show for Carmichael Outreach, a community-based organization that helps Regina’s poor and disenfranchised.
“They have a lot of programming that they run on generous donations from the community of Regina,” Bergen said. “And although food and clothing donations are awesome, what they need most is cash to run their programming, so we thought a benefit show would be a great way to raise some cash for them.”
The idea of Band Swap being a benefit show is nothing new. Saskatoon’s Band Swap has been a benefit for Saskatoon’s Crisis Nursery since it’s inception, a fact that continues to bring Saskatoonians out each year. Likewise, all of the proceeds from Regina Band Swap will go to Carmichael Outreach.
“The two organizers [Alison Whelan and Mairin Loewen] Skyped with Kathleen and I one night and gave us the sort of ins and outs of their process, and tips about how to do it successfully,” Bergen said. “We’re really thankful to Alison and Mairin for helping us with the process.
“People rave about it in Saskatoon, and Regina’s got a fairly robust music scene here, and we thought, ‘Hey, we could do that here,’ and I like organizing things, so I thought that person could be me.”
Despite the fact that the Regina event has only been up on Facebook for less than a week, the response to this event has been overwhelming.
“I think people are excited for two reasons,” Bergen said. “A, that they get to jam with other local musicians. Most of the people we’ve had register are pretty excited to get the chance to play music with other people. And B, it’s for a good a cause. I think once you attach that the money being raised is going towards something then it even has more impact.”
The premise of Band Swap is simple. Interested musicians sign up on a Google Doc before Dec. 1. On Dec. 26, seven bands of five people will be drawn out of a hat. These new bands will have 24 hours to come up with a 20-minute set made up mostly of cover songs.
“I think it will be fun to see people from different musical backgrounds and who play in different genres to play cover songs together,” Bergen said. “When you’re doing cover songs, you get away from any one new band being pinholed into a genre that most of its members might be from.
“They’re going to have to be creative, and the melody line might be someone humming. I think that’s what makes this such a fun process. People have to step out of their comfort zones. So if they’ve only ever played the drums before, maybe they have to pick up that second instrument that they noodle around on in their basement and play that.”