Musicians back up Boathouse with fundraiser

  • By Terry Pender, Record staff Wed Feb 15 2012

KITCHENER — The Grand River Blues Society is holding a fundraiser for The Boathouse in Victoria Park.

“The Boathouse has become one of those places that has quietly developed into an iconic music venue,” said Claude Cloutier, of the blues society.

Featuring performances from some of the area’s best known musicians, the event aims to raise funds to help Kevin Doyle, who operated The Boathouse before the city closed it to make extensive improvements to the park. Doyle and city staff are in the midst of negotiating a new lease to reopen in the spring.

The Boathouse is closed while the pond in Victoria Park is dredged, deepened and stone blocks installed around the shoreline.

“Kevin did not ask us to organize this fundraiser, but I realize that it needs to happen so that Kevin can cover bills and have seed money to reopen,” Cloutier said.

City councillors recently approved $610,000 in renovations to the inside and outside of The Boathouse, but supporters of the live-music venue oppose plans to build a lakeside pathway between the patio and the pond. They say it will result in lower revenues because fewer patrons can sit on the patio and the higher operating expenses required to pay for staff to ensure alcohol is not passed from the patio to people on the pathway.

It could be three months before The Boathouse reopens. Doyle has to negotiate a new lease with the City of Kitchener and all of the work in and around the building must be completed. Meanwhile, Doyle has ongoing expenses related to the business, such as a business phone and internet connection. Thousands of dollars will be needed to restock the bar as well.

“I think it is very nice of them,” Doyle said of the fundraiser. “Thanks a lot, that’s all I’ve got to say.”

The fundraiser will follow the annual general meeting of the Grand River Blues Society. There will be a long list of live performances, including — Colin White, Lynn Jackson, Lucas Stagg, Paul MacLeod, Matt Storch, King Roller, Matt Weidinger Band, Douglas Watson R&B Revue, Miss Angel and The Homewreckers, Jon Knight and Soulstack, Cheryl Lescom and The Tuscon Choir Boys.

Several local musicians benefited from fundraisers at The Boathouse during the past seven years, and now many are donating their time to help Doyle meet expenses while it remains closed and he prepares for the reopening.

“This is a unique establishment where blues fans could fill the venue on one night with a completely different audience filling it the next listening to their punk band, singer songwriters, folk musicians,” Cloutier said.

“The venue has established quite a reputation with many legendary performers having taken to the stage there such as the late great Honey Boy Edwards, our local blues legend Mel Brown, Maria Muldaur, Duke Robillard, Carol Pope, Bobby Wiseman, Magic Slim, Elliott Brood, Watermelon Slim,” Cloutier said.

Float The Boathouse fundraiser:

*Sunday, Feb. 26.

* Edelweiss Banquet Hall, 600 Doon Village Rd., Kitchener.

* Doors open at noon.

* Live music from a long list of local musicians runs from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m.

* Tickets $20.

* Tickets available at Orange Monkey in Waterloo, Encore Records in Kitchener, MacAulay’s Music in Cambridge.

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