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This article was published 7/1/2014 (3099 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
An East Kildonan musician is hoping to fight the Internet with the Internet.
Dr. Rage and the Uppercuts frontman James Rewucki and his band are set to launch the Culture is your Operating System contest — a "social media game" — on Jan. 15.
The 47-year-old Rewucki, who previously played in The Whiskey Puppets and has been a part of the local scene for approximately 30 years, said his current group has a couple hundred dedicated fans after nine years together. He said easier access to entertainment through the Internet has made it more challenging for local artists to draw people into the audience.
"Not to sound like an old-timer bashing on the Internet, because I think the Internet is great for a lot of things for independent artists, but the one thing that I do think it has affected is people getting out and supporting things in their local community, because they don’t really have to," he said. "People just have so many options for entertainment now that going to see a local band might be low on that priority list.
"I can watch a Black Crowes concert tonight. I can download that for free."
Rewucki said he’s noticed people tending to spend their entertainment dollars on larger-scale events travelling through town — which wasn’t always the case.
"When I was first just starting out, on a Friday or a Saturday night, any bar in town, if they had a band, that place was packed," he said. "You couldn’t get in if you got there late, and that has changed dramatically."
As part of the contest, participants receive five points for each photo or video posted from a cultural event in the city. Though Rewucki hopes the contest helps provide a jump-start to the local music scene, in particular, to coincide with 2014 being named the Year of Music in Manitoba, attending theatre and dance events count toward a player’s total.
Prizes include tickets to a Winnipeg Jets game in a luxury box, a barbecue and party with the band, and VIP treatment at the game wrap party.
"That just comes from being in the scene for so many years and seeing how much everybody struggles for support," he said. "You go to shows and you see artists you know are really good, they’ve been playing around the city and you know people know about them. The shows are half-empty, and it’s always disheartening when you see that."
He said he was able to command $600 for a night for the three-piece band he was in at that time, but now, can’t top $500 for the five-piece Dr. Rage and the Uppercuts.
One event Rewucki hopes receives a boost is the Dr. Rage and the Uppercuts CD release party for Rage 3 on Feb. 1 at the West End Cultural Centre.
Cat Jahnke, Jeff Doerr, and Rewucki’s niece Irene Sas will appear as special guests, while Scott Nolan and Calabi Yau will perform sets of their own. Doors open at 7:15 p.m., and advance tickets are $12 at Into The Music (245 McDermot Ave.).