NEXT STAGE #1 Feb 10 2005

No Smoke, no problem

Pub crawl in post-smoking bylaw Whitehorse

As a non-smoker, I looked forward to my first pub crawl after the anti-smoking bylaw was rolled out to bars Jan. 1. This sits sideways for some people who think government is putting its nose where it aught not be. As the majority of live music in this town is presented in licensed establishments, I applaud this forward-thinking legislation and dedicate this column to the hard-working bartenders and servers who can now breathe (what do you call it?) oxygen.

First day, first chance to experience a post-smoking bylaw Whitehorse and all was quiet at the Capital Hotel. This frosty, cold first night was hopping if only for me. “You should have been here last night,” said DJKJ, speaking between sets. “This place was packed wall to wall, it was fantastic”. I found two hard-working DJs before a mostly empty house. DJKJ spun most of the evening with DJ Synapse filling in for a break with some drum and bass. “ It’s amazing how much (DJ) talent we have up here,” said DJKC. “I mean, for a territory of 30,000.”

I was impressed with the dedication of these two showing up to a regular gig on New Year’s. “I can count the times I’ve missed a Saturday night gig on one hand,” the DJ reflects.

Over at the River View Hotel’s Backwater Lounge, Peggy Hanifan pulled double duty as MC and guitar player. She asked if everyone was okay with the new smoking ban and the crowd let out a cheer of approval. Chris McNutt got up to riff and rant on television’s The Brady Bunch -- to groans and giggles -- and gave his advice in a bit he called, The Universal Parental Story.

The shining light in an otherwise dull night was Graham Peters, who took the stage and showed a spirited talent for songwriting. Several original numbers sounded as if they were the bastard children of a Smashing Pumpkins / Billy Bragg union – an aggressive approach to acoustic guitar with naïve romantic lyrics. The acoustic guitar was not made to be a megaphone, but, in Peters’ hands, it spoke loudly.

Gordie Tentrees brought his trio to The Boiler Room for three great gigs on three Friday nights. It was just what a soul needed to warm up after a spell of cold weather. The Gordon Tentrees Trio sang a feast of big stories and bite-size vignettes set out on a tableau in spicy mexi surf, roots country and blues cabaret. The overall tone of the band suits a small room. The upright bass, hollow-bodied electric and a voice that can pull off a Tom Waits tune was a sweet mix. And, not for nothing, Gordie Tentrees is a man who wears a shirt well.