Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 16/7/2011 (2044 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
THERE'S a little place on the corner of Main and St. Mary called the Times Change(d) High & Lonesome Club. It's mentioned in songs and poems and stories, and it means a lot to a lot of people.
"Here's to the Fortunes at Main and St. Mary," sings Scott Nolan, referencing the original owner of the building, Mark Fortune, who went down with the Titanic but not before he played a major role in the initial development of downtown Winnipeg. Governor General's Award Nominee Patrick Friesen titled a collection of his poetry, St. Mary At Main. The name of the club pops up in the lyrics of an appropriate song called "There Will Always Be A Small Time," by one of Canada's greatest unsung folksingers, Toronto's Corin Raymond. And, of course, its people and philosophy regularly wind their way into my regular column in Uptown, entitled Housecoat Diaries.
I run the Times Change(d), but what I really do there is just the same as all the other people who return time and again: I listen. They say that great music needs great listeners. And the crowds that fill "the best little honky-tonk in town" (as the sign says) are truly great listeners. When the moment demands silence and rapt attention, there's not a whisper. And when it's time to be rowdy, to stomp and holler for joy, you can feel the building shake.
You can go to a concert or a festival or a big dance club, and you can see a great show, but there's nothing like a little room filled with passionate listeners to get a sense of how much power music truly has.
The Times Change(d) is a gift to people like me, people who really understand the give and take of music, by which I mean the exchange that happens between a musician and a listener. If you've ever wondered why there seems to be so many great musicians who have come out of the Times Change(d) scene, and why so many more want to the play the club, the answer is simple: in a little room, the connection between the stage and the crowd is blurred; in the give and take, the exchange, the playing and the listening, they all become one incredible living thing. And by being part of it, both the musicians and the fans become something more than they could be otherwise. In a room like that, the whole is always far more than the sum of its parts. And that's one capacity you'll never put a number on.