Bands Will Swap

For years, an event called Band Swap has been going on in Saskatoon. Run by Alison Whelan and Mairin Loewen, the annual show makes bands out of randomly assembled members of the the city’s music community, who then have to perform in just 24 hours.

Reginans Jenn Bergen and Kathleen Wilson are following their lead; today, they’ve officially launched Band Swap Regina. Right now, interested musicians can head over to the Facebook event page for info on how to sign up. They’ve got until December 1 to do that.

The event will benefit Carmichael Outreach. For the December 27 show, they’re being allowed to use the Exchange, free of charge. Holiday spirit and all that, I’m sure.

For the rest of the info, I talked with Bergen, formerly of Regina band Polymaths herself. You can read the Q&A — including one silly question at the end Bergen was nice enough to answer — after the jump.

prairie dog: How long have you been working on putting this together?

Jenn Bergen: We Skyped with Alison and Mairin; they were kind enough to give us some tips about how they do Saskatoon Band Swap. Since then, we’ve just been noodling away, getting things done, and we decided to launch it today.

What you’re hoping for is seven bands doing 20-minute performances on Dec. 27?

Yep. How it will work is on December 26, we’ll have a community meal with all the musicians and we’ll pick names out of a hat to make the new bands. We’re also going to pick out the names of some cover songs the bands can play and give them the opportunity to make new songs. Then, they’ll perform those the next night, so they’ll have 24 hours to practice together.

Are you yourself going to be participating in the actual band portion?

Maybe, yeah. I really want to and I hope that organizing logistics won’t get in the way of my participation, but yep, yes.

If you could think of a dream Regina Band Swap team of unlikely musicians to be together, any idea who’d be on that?

I’d love it if someone like Andrew Love or Justin Ludwig could come out and bring their musical stylings. I think it’d be really great to have an instrument like the accordion –– maybe Kristina Hedlund. Maybe someone from the symphony would like to come out and add some strings to the band.

I also think it would be really great to get some people from the pop scene out, maybe Library Voices or Rah Rah. I’ve talked to a few of them who’ve already said that they’d be down. Maybe the Hat [real name: Steve Jeske]. I would love for him to come and wail on the keyboard.

I’ve noticed that you’ve already got a Facebook event set-up and that you’ve invited a few hundred people. Are there any other ways that you’re reaching out to musicians in Regina to get them to come out?

Yes. We made a master list of all the Regina bands and so we’re going to be e-mailing them individually just to make sure that they know about it for sure, because we realize that we’re connected to a few of the communities but not all of them. We want to make sure the registrants are as diverse as possible.

You have a cap of 35 musicians. Do you think that you’ll reach that?

Hopefully, yes. Hopefully two weeks is enough time to get enough people who are interested and are willing to commit to 24 hours of musical creation. If we can’t, it’ll just mean fewer bands.

One last question, a hypothetical. Let’s say all the members of a band join in and their names are drawn out of the hat and they’re just formed into their own band. Do you guys redraw or do you just let them perform?

I don’t know. We didn’t think of that. I guess if that happened, it would defeat the whole process of swapping band members, so we’d probably make some kind of rule, like if two or more of a certain band ended up in the same new band, we’d redraw or something like that.

So there’s always the chance that fate will bring bureaucracy down on Band Swap Regina.

Yeah, totally.

Author: James Brotheridge

Contributing Editor with Prairie Dog.