March 29, 2020

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Winnipeg Free Press


Putting winter on pause

Festival encourages audiences to explore the West End

It can be tough to churn up the motivation to get out of the house in January. It’s cold, it’s dark and the post-holiday blues and fatigue make binge-watching a series on Netflix preferable to almost any other activity.

Festival preview

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● Jan. 22-25
● Various venues
● Tickets: range in price from $10-$30 in advance, visit for purchasing information

But for a while — eight years to be exact — the Big Fun Festival provided a real reason (for music lovers, anyway) to get out and about in January, bringing in an eclectic collection of musicians to an eclectic collection of venues each year.

In June 2019, festival organizers stated Big Fun would be going on hiatus, leaving a gap in winter musical programming during the weeks post-holiday concerts and prior to the Winnipeg New Music Festival, which paved the way for Winterruption to land in Winnipeg.

Leonard Sumner headlines Wednesday's Winterruption concert at the WECC. (Supplied)

Leonard Sumner headlines Wednesday's Winterruption concert at the WECC. (Supplied)

Winterruption, a music festival, has been running in Regina and Saskatoon since 2015, and along the way has added Edmonton, Swift Current, Sask., and, now, Winnipeg to its roster of participating cities.

Winnipeg’s Winterruption will take place at venues throughout the West End, including the Good Will Social Club, X-Cues Billiards, the Handsome Daughter and the West End Cultural Centre, starting tonight and winding up Saturday.

Artistry infused with green vision

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Posted: 21/01/2020 7:00 PM

When the Free Press calls, avant-garde pop artist Hannah Epperson answers her phone from Chicago, where she has a long layover between trains as she travels by rail from her adopted home of New York City to Vancouver, where she spent much of her youth.

“Train travel is the way of the future. It’s the way of the past, it’s gotta be the way of the future,” laughs the 32-year-old Salt Lake City native and Canadian permanent resident who is keen to limit her travel by air and car.

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"We wanted to make it a neighbourhood thing, which is not the same as what Big Fun was; Big Fun was a bit more downtown. We want to bring people to walk around the West End, there’s a big intent behind that, we want people to walk around the neighbourhood," says Jorge Requena Ramos, the West End Cultural Centre’s booking manager.

"We want to make sure that we’re creating an environment where people can go to a show at the Good Will and then go to a show at X-Cues, or come to a show here (at the WECC) and then go to the Handsome Daughter, we wanted it to be a more circulating, ambulant festival."

Though the festival is a chain of sorts, being under the Winterruption umbrella doesn’t really affect how Winnipeg organizers from the West End Cultural Centre, the Good Will Social Club and Real Love Winnipeg have planned and programmed the event. It does, however, allow artists to create a mini-tour by hitting up multiple Winterruptions in multiple cities, which makes touring the Prairies in dead of winter more enticing.

For the inaugural festival, nine shows take place over the four-day event and include headliners such as Manitobans Leonard Sumner (Wednesday, 8 p.m., WECC) and Lana Winterhalt (Thursday, 8 p.m., X-Cues), as well as 2 Heads hitmaker Coleman Hell (Thursday, 8 p.m., WECC) and avant-garde pop artist Hannah Epperson (Thursday, 9 p.m., Good Will), among others.

Lana Winterhalt takes to the stage Thursday night at X-Cues. (Supplied photo)

Lana Winterhalt takes to the stage Thursday night at X-Cues. (Supplied photo)

"We’re trying not to focus on genre to brand the festival in that way. We wanted it to be a mix of things, like Coleman Hell is a Top 40 artist, which is rare for the WECC and we want to introduce ourselves to those people," says Requena Ramos.

There are no festival passes for Winterruption this year, except for three "golden tickets" organizers gave away in a contest on Instagram, so attendees must purchase tickets, which range in price from $10 to $30, for each show individually. As an added incentive to check out multiple venues, those who attend shows at three or more venues in one night will be given a free beer.

Top 40 artist Coleman Hell is part of the Winterruption roster. (Aaron Vincent Elkaim / Canadian Press files)

Top 40 artist Coleman Hell is part of the Winterruption roster. (Aaron Vincent Elkaim / Canadian Press files)

It’s a small saving that Requena Ramos hopes will encourage movement from venue to venue, allowing attendees to explore more of the West End and to feel safe doing so.

"We’re very adamant that we want to let people know the West End isn’t a dangerous place. I feel like because of the shooting at the 7-Eleven and the other ‘crime streak’ of people stealing booze from the liquor commission or breaking into cars, I feel like we’re getting a bad rap," he says.

"We want to put on a good show so we can get back in people’s good books as a neighbourhood, so we’re making a big effort to bring people over here to our home in the West End."

Twitter: @NireRabel

Erin Lebar

Erin Lebar
Multimedia producer

Erin Lebar is a multimedia producer who spends most of her time writing music- and culture-related stories for the Arts & Life section. She also co-hosts the Winnipeg Free Press's weekly pop-culture podcast, Bury the Lede.

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