Metro – June 13, 2013

Metro file photo: The Calgary Drop-In & Rehab Centre is the city’s largest homeless shelter.

Little-known fact about your bi-monthly scribe: In addition to my day job and my Metro column, I spend a lot of my free time playing in a roots-country band called The Ruminants.

When you’re in a band, there are times when you feel like you are always “asking.” Whether it’s calling up a booker and asking for gigs, hunting down the manager at the end of the night to get paid, or getting the audience into the music enough that they want to make a little noise or dance, one can often feel like they are always out for the “ask.”

However, this past Friday, The Ruminants had a chance to give back at the Calgary Drop-In & Rehab Centre.

Every Friday afternoon at 4:30 the second floor of the DI turns into one of the most fun, loudest gigs in town as part of its burgeoning ArtBeat project. ArtBeat is a multi-faceted program designed to bring visual art and music to the Drop-In Centre’s clients and staff.

For a band like The Ruminants, it was a great way for us to give back to the community, and for the clients of the DI, it’s a chance to be able to do something they often don’t get to do: Take in some live music.

I’ve played some gigs where we’ve really been fighting to keep the crowd’s attention. I’ve played some shows where most of the audience could care less if we were even there. But last Friday, it was neither of those things. Putting a smile on someone’s face, getting a few toes tapping and legs dancing reminded me why I love playing music in the first place.

The ArtBeat stage has unlimited potential, and it needs our help. If you are in a band in Calgary, I highly suggest you get in touch with the DI staff and ask about a gig.

But they don’t just need pickers.

Clients run the stage and sound production and get by on donations. Have some gear you’re not using? Give them a call. Have experience in sound and production or want to volunteer as a stage hand? They could use your experience as well.

Being able to use your music to give back is an incredible experience, and I highly suggest you email program co-ordinator Cort Bulloch ( to get involved at one of Calgary’s most unique venues.

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