The greatest-hits album is the staple of any rock group or pop singer who has been performing for while. Some have done three or more.
Stu Reid, who has been creating concert posters for 35 years, has grabbed his mouse and designing programs and jumped on that bandwagon.
He’s turned his pandemic project — scrounging through hard drives to round up his vast concert-poster collection — into Winnipeg Gig Posters 1984-2019, a calendar that includes some of the greatest hits from the 1,000 or so posters he has created.
In doing so, he has created a celebration of 35-year history of Winnipeg’s music scene, from Kenny Shields to the Tragically Hip; from Don Amero to Bob Dylan.
"The older you get, you start to get nostalgic. I thought I should throw these up there and create some sort of legacy for myself," Reid says.
Reid, who hosts the Twang Trust show on CKUW 95.9 FM and also puts on home concerts at the StuDome, his house in Crescentwood, is also a graphic designer. In the 1980s he began combining his skills with his love of music to help promote the bands he enjoyed seeing.
"My favourite local band of all time was the Fuse, the Hatcher brothers. When they were known as the Six, I approached them, and I did a few things for them, posters and T-shirt designs and stuff," Reid remembers. "I came to it from being a fan with a bit of an artistic flair, I guess."
The calendar, naturally, includes some of those early posters for the Fuse. It also includes the last one he created prior to COVID-19’s shutdown of the concert industry: Elton John’s two concerts at Bell MTS Place in October 2019.
He says the poster’s appearance in the calendar is the first time it’s been viewed in public. It wasn’t part of the promotion for the shows, Reid says.
"Whoever was putting the Elton John concert together was having a poster done on every city on the tour and they were going to put them into a book they were going to present to Elton at the end of the tour," he says.
"I don’t even know if he’s actually ever seen it because I’m wondering if the book ever made it into existence or not because of the whole shutdown," Reid says.
The Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour was supposed to end in 2020 and mark the 73-year-old singer’s final concert appearances. The pandemic forced promoters to postpone the shows into the fall of 2021 and the tour has been stretched all the way to early 2023.
The Winnipeg Gig Posters calendar also serves as a reminder of bands who were big 30 years ago — remember the Queen City Kids and the Pursuit of Happiness? — and bands such as the Tragically Hip, who went from playing small gigs at Le Rendez-Vous in 1990 to becoming a cultural touchstone in Canada 30 years later.
Reid’s initial plan was to create a website to display the calendars — he’s close to completing that project — and the calendar concept grew out of that. He found about 1,000 posters, but he is sure there are 1,000 more that have gone into the great cyber-beyond.
"In the digital era I had a few faulty backup disks and hard-drive crashes where I’ve lost a lot," he says. "There are a few years where I have, literally, nothing. I know that I have hundreds in those years. In all there are probably 2,000 (posters)."
The calendar costs $20, and is available by emailing Reid at email@example.com. A deluxe combo pack that costs $40 includes the calendar as well as your choice of a poster from one of three Winnipeg shows — Metallica at Winnipeg Arena in 1989, the Tragically Hip with the Watchmen at Le Rendez-Vous in 1990 and John Prine at the Walker Theatre in 2002.
Alan Small has been a journalist at the Free Press for more than 22 years in a variety of roles, the latest being a reporter in the Arts and Life section.