The live music scene in the pubs and clubs ain’t what it used to be.
The once thriving musical locales that were the highlight of Vancouver’s nightlife for so many decades have struggled through recent years to keep their heads above water. Sadly, many have lost the battle and had to close up shop.
A similar story runs through most cities, and the Island is no exception. As musicians search high and low for places to showcase their talents, they are often left wanting. Although many venues have been lost, those few left are keeping up the good fight. But a genesis in this struggling industry is a rarity. One such phenomenon on the Island is the Osborne Bay Pub in Crofton.
Against all odds, the Osborne Bay Pub has gone in the other direction, emerging not just as the Cowichan Valley’s Live Music Destination but a place for Islanders near and far to enjoy live music and dancing in a great social atmosphere. It can all be attributed to the work of Berry Music Company Ltd. owner Patricia Berry, also the general manager/marketing executive of the Pub, for making it happen.
The landscape is a lot less crowded now for live music venues, yet it still takes an extraordinary effort to bring in the quality shows that people want to see and entice them away from snuggling up in front of the TV on weekends.
The Osborne Bay Pub truly offers a special experience for patrons.
“It is really exciting to see so many people having fun, socializing and dancing,” said Berry. “Makes me feel like all this hard work is worthwhile.”
The transformation of the establishment itself from a sleepy little seaside pub into a warm, family-friendly busy destination every day of the week and an extremely exciting, thriving nightlife scene on the weekends has been remarkable.
“The response from the music industry is outstanding,” noted Berry. “Thousands of bands have applied to play at this amazing venue. The venue itself is so wonderful – the stage, sound, dance floor, comfortable atmosphere, friendly staff, amazing food.”
The care and love of so many people has gone into crafting every aspect of the public’s experience at the pub.
And the public has responded in a big way, with five-star reviews rolling in every weekend.
“A really cool theme that I am trying to establish here is that of a new, but retro, form of social media,” Berry indicated.
Her good friend Russell Marsland, one of the founders of the R&B Allstars among many other musical projects, put it in perspective when he recently addressed the audience while performing at the Osborne Bay Pub.
“Now this is real social media, you’re here, being social,” he excitedly announced.
“In this world of electronic disconnect, it is crucial that we enjoy quality social time with our friends and neighbours,” Berry explained.
“The universal language of music brings us together in such a beautiful way. We can transcend differences, laugh and dance together, reminding us how wonderful spending time with others is.”
Berry’s life passion has always been helping people.
”The beauty within this project is the method in which I get to accomplish this,” she conceded, “Creating a place of joy through music this past year has been the highlight of my life.”
It’s meant a lot of endless hours of work and some sleepless nights, but a sea of smiling faces during Osborne Bay Pub events is her reward.
“I am overwhelmed with gratitude to get to do what I do,” Berry remarked. “A crucial aspect of live music is that it is raw and uncut. Most of what we are exposed to now is so processed and filtered, I feel that we have lost some of the beauty of reality.
“When you take in a live show, you never know what is going to happen. It is exciting and engaging to see the musicians pouring their hearts out on stage. You get to share in this with them. It is a journey we all take together, stepping out exhilarated by the new experience that we just created.”
Berry added a lady approached her after a show and said she experienced more fun than she had in 30 years. She mentioned how she felt ‘transported to another time and place on the dance floor, and all her troubles just melted away.’
Comments like that do Berry’s heart good.
The musical success aside, the pub and the adjacent cafe being renovated need more overall to survive and that’s where Berry is now putting her expertise to work. She’s recently initiated exciting incentives to bring in more weekday business, including happy hour, daily specials, a children’s menu and a new wine list focusing on Cowichan Valley wines, and new local beers and spirits.
There’s no magic formula for creating the right entertainment and dining experience, other than a good old-fashioned mix of versatility and variety that are indeed the spice of life at the Osborne Bay Pub.