Blues Underground Changes Hands

Nanaimo Blues SocietyThe Nanaimo Blues Society has transferred ownership and responsibility for the Blues Underground to Sky High Productions. The Blues Underground began as the Blues Society's Community Outreach project, and thanks to the sweat equity of many of Society members, 10 Lois Lane, Nanaimo, was transformed from a grubby, graffiti-covered basement full of trash into a funky blues club which opened on June 23, 2007. Since that time, under the inspirational leadership of Tom Dodge, the venue has blossomed and grown with two weekly jams, numerous live recording sessions, band rehearsals, and events.

Last summer when the Blues Society partnered with Sky High Productions to present Sidewalk All Stars, it was full of the energy of talented young musicians learning from many of Nanaimo's best, and forming into the bands that we enjoyed so much at this year's Summertime Blues Festival. Thanks to the efforts of Sky High Productions (Tom Dodge and Manda Chelmak), the first session of Sidewalk All Stars was a resounding success (just talk to any of the participants or their parents), and they have just completed auditions and have now begun their second session with 30 enthusiastic participants.

As a result of all this success, the reality is that the Blues Underground has taken on a life of its own and has evolved into something bigger than the Nanaimo Blues Society is able to be responsible for – the Society members are all volunteers with other commitments, and the annual Summertime Blues Festival takes the lion's share of their energy.

Tom Dodge and a core of volunteers have been running things at the Blues Underground on their own for some time now, and the venue fits perfectly with Sky High's Sidewalk All Stars program as well as their plans for music lessons and workshops. Sky High Productions was willing to take responsibility for the space, and transferring it to them was clearly the right thing to do. It creates a win-win situation where the Blues Underground space is used to its best advantage and the Blues Society can concentrate on making Summertime Blues the best it can be.

Sky High has now taken over the lease and full responsibility for the space. The Blues Society will continue to support and work with Sky High wherever possible and there will always be a place on the Summertime Blues stage for the enthusiastic and talented graduates of Sidewalk All Stars.

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