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this town is small Critique Sessions

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Al Douglas knows how to get it done

by Moe

Al Douglas (photo: Moe)Happy fall! I hope everyone had a lovely summer. Mine was filled with working, walking, and a few music festivals. Now that the weather is getting chilly, I’m replacing festivals with writing, so I sat down with Al Douglas to see what he’s been up to.

Which, it turns out, is a lot. He works for Cavendish Beach Music Festival, Big Red Music Festival, PEI Brewing Company, booking the entertainment for Murphy Group, is on the board of directors for MusicPEI, and co-chairs Movember PEI.

He is also in a couple of bands, Get Bodied and Muckracker, both on the sidelines, but still around. Look for a possible show from Get Bodied near the end of the year.

For anyone who’s been involved in the music scene over the years, Al’s name is probably fairly familiar. I most strongly associate him to the all ages scene. He started going to all ages shows when he was around twelve and noticed there was a hole in the scene so dived into putting on his own all ages shows. At one point, every time I turned around Al was putting on a show wherever a venue could be had—in various basements, community centres, The Guild…

His all ages shows have slowed down considerably, which is understandable with everything on his plate. It seems there’s also a lull in formation of new bands. Al said that when he put on Awesomefest in 2008 at The Guild, he had roughly 28 local bands, mostly in the hardcore/metal/hard rock genres, play over two days. Today, he was hard pressed to think of half a dozen that could do that.

A strong all ages scene is important to any community. On the surface, it gives young people something to do, but it also fosters a love of music, creativity, and community. I’m not sure my love for music would be what it is today if it wasn’t for those vital all ages shows I went to when I was younger. Also, some of the most important and inspiring moments in my life were because of the all ages community. Even as an adult, I love photographing all ages shows. The audience is there for the love of the music, not to just do whatever and “Oh, there’s a band playing? Sure.”

So is it a lack of promoters? Or a lack of bands? Maybe a little bit of both. There’s definitely room for someone to step up to the plate in regards to putting on shows, but the bands need to be there, too. The Benevolent Irish Society has been instrumental in creating an amazing and safe space over the past few years. I remember a time when the biggest challenge seemed to be finding a reliable venue.

That aside, it sounds like Al has some exciting things up his sleeves. Booking for Murphy Group and also working with PEI Brewing Company, which you may be surprised to learn has a sweet space for larger shows, is going to give Al an excellent opportunity to book acts that may pass little PEI by. Especially keep an eye out around MusicPEI/ECMA Weeks. PEI has been sorely lacking in a venue that can hold roughly 500–700 people and PEI Brewing Company plans on filling that hole. Thanks, guys!

Al can be contacted via facebook (aldouglas) or twitter @aldouglas

And if any of you want to dive into putting on all ages shows, Al is open to questions.

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