All hands on stage: Hay River belts it out

Bring us your raspy voiced, your bell toned, your skilled at string dexterity. 

Open mic nights are back in Hay River. In fact, they’re been going steady for half the year thanks to Greg McLaughlin, Curtis Rowe and a handful of local musicians and amateur performers who come out to share their talent at the Doghouse Sports Pub. 

On Nov. 12, the venue could have been a bustling bar in a city centre only the feeling was much more casual – the next best thing and some may argue, better. By 10:30 p.m. people were crowded around tables, chairs were hard to find, leaving some standing in appreciation.

McLaughlin, a musician himself, is going on his second year in the town and aside from helping to provide a venue, he’s hoping to keep up his practice performing as well to help provide a venue for musicians who may not otherwise have a place to perform. Originally from Ottawa, he spent six years in Iqaluit before coming to Hay River.

“It might seem unlikely but Iqaluit has an active music scene,” said McLaughlin. “It’s a really young population and you could go out and see live music at least two nights a week.”

In Hay River, open mic nights began early 2010 but were intermittent. In between acts, McLaughlin plays his own renditions of tunes to bridge noiselessness.

He’s now hosted five consecutive open mic nights at the pub with no plans to slow down.

“We’re trying to do it consistently so local musicians have a venue to play,” he said. “You see your friends get up there and belt out a few songs and they’re sometimes people you didn’t expected would get up there. Some nights you’ll get seven different people and some nights you’ll only get two. It’s not always the same crowd but it usually ends up with a positive vibe either way.”

The next open mic will be held thanks to efforts by pub manager Curtis Rowe. It’s a Movember fundraiser with proceeds going towards prostate cancer research. Last year’s show raised $1,700 for the cause.

The open mic night and fundraiser will be held Nov. 26 at the Doghouse at 9 p.m.