Everything about Osborne Bay Pub’s ambition to serve as the Cowichan Valley’s live music destination by owner Tony van de Mortel, manager and Berry Music Co. owner Patricia Berry and executive chef Philippe Lavoie is tastefully done.
The food prepared by Lavoie and staff (see story A3) is one incredible aspect, but the approach of providing a great venue to whet the appetite of live music lovers is truly commendable in this day and age when few establishments are doing it. The musicians, of course, love it and can’t say enough about the opportunity it gives them while audiences are lapping up the energy and find it’s great value for their entertainment dollar.
Music later in the evening doesn’t affect people coming for dinner to check out the new menu.
Berry is the visionary behind the music. She came on board in March and immediately went to work putting her plan into action.
Berry’s own story started on one coast and slowly wound its way to the other, here on the West Coast. She was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia and spent time on the Prairies in places like Edmonton, Calgary, Banff and Canmore, Alberta.
After spending time in the B.C. Interior, Berry really wanted to raise her daughter, who’s 14 now, on the Island and fell in love with the Cowichan Valley.
Her academic studies are in philosophy and psychology and she’s also a writer. Berry’s love of literature, film and vintage collectibles define who she is as well as having a profound love of everything pertaining to music.
Berry’s office reflects the busy nature of the business, with notes everywhere, artist mugshots, files, 1920s-’60s memorabilia, records, books, art and more music.
“I’m just a lover of the arts and a music aficionado,” Berry said.
Helping bands with promotions behind the scenes is a passion, making her current job the ultimate.
“I just like helping support musicians,” Berry noted. “They work so hard for so little. They put their heart and soul into what they do. It’s exciting to be here, in particular. I’ve had so much positive feedback and musicians rave about what an exceptional venue this is.”
Osborne Bay Pub is indeed a rarity, but the musicians really appreciate what it offers. There’s some exceptionally high quality acts, including many from Victoria and Vancouver, that are feeling the vibe and want to be part of something special by returning to the scene again and again.
Live music was happening at Osborne Bay Pub before Berry’s arrival, but not to the current grandiose scale. She’s put a new spin on the music scene here.
“The people I’ve met who have come here and are huge in the industry have the utmost respect for Patricia and what she’s trying to do,” said van de Mortel.
“Live music destinations have been struggling for a while and becoming rare,” noted Berry.
For the young people who don’t know what they’ve been missing, “I want them to realize why the ’60s happened,” she teased.
“I am so excited to build an amazing music scene here and see this business truly flourish. I have a very clear vision of the future of this place. I see it filled with happy people who love music and good food, sharing great vibes and building fabulous memories.
“It’s been a blessing. It’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I always wanted to be in the industry, but I wasn’t quite sure where to focus my energy and talent. This has given my life true purpose.”
“The potential is there, it just wasn’t being pushed,” added van de Mortel. “Patricia came in and said, ‘this place has untapped potential. I see this being a top live music destination in B.C. Let’s make this happen.’ So far, it’s exceeded my expectations.”
“If I take on a project, I’m pretty focused,” said Berry. “I won’t give up, no matter what.”
Through intense promotions – newspaper ads, social media, billboards, you name it – people are getting the message.
“We’ve got a lot of people coming in who’ve never been here before – new faces,” observed Berry. “My goal is to bring the entire Cowichan Valley here.”
She’s receiving emails from bands every day and is booked way ahead of time already into February of next year. That’s a sure indication of how timing was of the essence to get this project going into full swing sooner rather than later.
“One of the things people said was that we were crazy to start in the summer,” noted van de Mortel. “But if we waited till the fall, we wouldn’t have had any results till next year. But Patricia went full speed ahead and the momentum has been unbelievable.”
The great thing about a smaller venue is also how the musicians can interact better with the crowd.
“They all have a story to tell, who they played with,” noted van de Mortel. “People love hearing this. It’s history.”
Berry really wanted music to be accessible to everyone. It’s only the beginning because she’s a tireless worker and has plenty of ideas yet to come to fruition.
“What I can guarantee the public every weekend is a fabulous night – different genres of extremely high-quality musicians,” she said.
“Music for everyone is my goal. I measure my success by how many smiling faces and tapping toes. It is always exciting when the dance floor is the happening place to be.”