BGCafé offers music opportunities to Airdrie youth
Aspiring Airdrie musicians now have the opportunity to rock out at the Boys and Girls Club’s (BGC) youth centre, thanks to a donation from SLAM, a group of Airdrie musicians, April 20.
SLAM presented the BGC with a new drum kit and a set of amplifiers which will be used on Friday nights during the Club’s BGCafé, open mic sessions for young musicians and performers.
“SLAM heard about the fact that we needed equipment,” said Denisa Sanness, executive director of the Airdrie Boys and Girls Club.
“Kids show up and want to perform, but they don’t have instruments to perform with.”
Shawn Justus, a member of SLAM, was motivated to help out by the difficulties he experienced in his youth. Those trying times got a little easier when he got his first drum kit and was able to express himself through his music.
“I got to bang the heck out of something and let some of my frustrations out and my inner being out, it was OK to make noise,” he said. “I thought maybe the Boys and Girls Club could really use (some drums) to let someone else who is younger have the opportunity to maybe learn the joy for music.”
Mitchell George, 20, an employee of the BGC, has played a major role with the BGCafé since its inception last September.
A musician himself, George said the jam sessions have grown in popularity from two or three teens to a regular crowd of about 12 or 13 youth every Friday night.
His dream is to grow the program to give kids a safe, productive place to share their music, poetry and theatrical skills.
“There are lots of venues that do open mikes, but it is youth restricted and kids don’t have places to go to explore music,” he said. “They can come and play their music and feel comfortable with their music and exposing it to other kids in the community.”
George said the talent of the 13- to 18-year-olds has been inspiring.
“Seventy-five per cent (of attendees) are getting up there and showcasing their music and blowing me away,” he said. “There is a lot of talent.”
Sanness said she has been impressed with the growth of the program.
“Originally, there were only two or three actually showing up and sometimes none at all, and now... it is starting to fill up,” she said. “Kids are becoming more invested in the BGC. It gives them the opportunity to become invested in the other programs we have to offer as well.”
Sanness encourages youth to attend the free evenings.
“Come check it out, it is every Friday night between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m.,” she said. “Come hang out, have some pizza and a coffee, watch other kids perform and just give it a try.”
George added no experience is necessary.
“Come in and enjoy the raw experience,” he said, adding that the BGCafé offers a chance for aspiring musicians to network and hang out with people of similar interests.”
The BGCafé is held at The Centre, the BGC’s youth facility, located in the Ron Ebbesen arena.
For more information visit www.bgcairdrie.com