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Musicians, audience grateful for opening of new Salmon Arm concert hall

After more than a year of planning and preparation, Song Sparrow Hall owners host first concert

“This show was the longest talked about show of this tour.”

Before Scott Cook and his bandmates the Second Chances began their Thursday night set on the Song Sparrow Hall stage, he took time to reflect on how it took much longer than anticipated to get there.

“Me and Ted (Crouch) were talking about it back in early 2020, I think we had a date even in June. It’s so wonderful finally being able to make it come true,” said Cook, of Edmonton, back on tour after a year away from concert hall stages due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Opening for Cook and company at the July 15 concert was the Shuswap’s own Jasmin Frederickson and Ari Lantella, aka Chicken-Like Birds. Like Cook, the duo was grateful to once again perform for a live audience, and equally grateful to be doing it at Song Sparrow.

“We feel pretty privileged to be here… the sound is incredible, this is a game changer,” said Federickson of the hall.

Lantella was thankful the hall, owned and developed another musically gifted couple, Clea Roddick and Craig Newnes, is now available as a space for musicians to play.

“I think it’s a needed venue because there’s nothing that’s dedicated in Salmon Arm for music,” said Lantella. “There’s a lot of venues, but it’s not just for music. This is just full-on music.”

Read more: Wednesday on the Wharf makes 2021 debut as digital offering

Read more: Salmon Arm’s Acoustic Avenue welcomes return of live music with Scott Cook, Chicken-like Birds

The first person to take stage the night of the concert was its organizer, Acoustic Avenue’s Ted Crouch, who thanked the audience for their patience, waiting out the pandemic for the time when they could finally get together – albeit in reduced capacity (in accordance with Stage 3 of the B.C. government’s Restart Plan) – to enjoy a return of live music.

“We already have some tentative shows lined up… for September, and a few more in 2021, and into 2022,” said Crouch.

Crouch welcomed Roddick and Newnes to the stage. Following applause, the two welcomed the crowd to the hall.

“We are really thrilled to see an audience,” said Roddick. “Because Song Sparrow Hall has seen a lot of different kinds of projects… But you’re are first live audience, you’re our beta audience, so thank you for your patience.”

After speeches, Frederickson and Lantella took the stage and delivered the audience to a time before March 2020, when people could be together to share a rewarding, musically driven social experience. Scott Cook and the Second Chances skillfully carried this tune to their final encore number. Despite questioning, at one point, how he was able to tour so much in the past after not having done it for more than a year because of the pandemic, Cook relished the opportunity to play at Song Sparrow.

“We’re a week into touring together as a band in almost two years, and it feels really surreal to be able to do this, it just feels like an incredible privilege to be able to sing songs for people in the flesh again,” said Cook, who had nothing but positive words for Roddick and Newnes and their facility. “It’s a world class performance space in a small town.”

After a long day of preparation and an evening as the concert’s sound engineer, a tired Newnes was buoyed by Song Sparrow’s inaugural concert.

“It was just a fantastic night, it was a great way to start,” said Newnes. “We’ve been… in solid construction for a year and half, and planning for about two years. We rode it out through the pandemic and it was a bit surreal in a way to have 100-plus people in the room at half capacity… Lots of great feedback from the patrons, we had a full house and I think it was a great night, a great way to open.”

Newnes said the night was a soft-opening for the hall. An official opening is in the works for September, and more events are in store with Acoustic Avenue, ROOTSandBLUES, the Shuswap District Arts Council and more.

“There’s just lots of exciting stuff coming up,” said Newnes.
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Scott Cook (centre) and the Second Chances gets the audience laughing with the rollicking Fellas, Get Out The Way, performed on the Songsparrow Hall stage on Thursday, July 15, 2021. (Lachlan Labere-Salmon Arm Observer)
Acoustic Avenue’s Ted Crouch welcomes the audience to Salmon Arm’s new concert venue, Clea Roddick and Craig Newnes’ Songsparrow Hall, which held its first concert open to the public on Thursday, July 15, 2021.
Chicken-Like Bids’ Ari Lantela and Jasmin Frederickson warm up the audience at Salmon Arm’s Songsparrow Hall during the venue’s first concert open to the public on Thursday, July 15, 2021. (Lachlan Labere-Salmon Arm Observer)