reNeu
reNeu Boutique, 359 King St

Do you know where in the city you can go to enjoy live music if you are not yet 19 years of age? Options appear to be limited so I want to bring your attention to reNeu Boutique. This locally-owned consignment boutique is located in Fredericton’s downtown Tannery. Heather Ogilvie opened in July 2006 and as the owner she is involved with all aspects of the business which employs 2 part-time staff. Their modest space is full of great finds from retro to modern, used & new as well as altered & handmade. Be sure to check out their selection!

What might not be so well known is the fact they also feature live music on a regular basis. Once I found out Heather also plays in a couple local bands – Shorty Tubbs and Pastel Skeleton – the connection seemed obvious. She answered a few questions to fill me in on how things have come together….

Why do you feel it is important to offer the live music experience at reNeu Boutique?
Well, there’s a real lack of consistent all-ages venues in Fredericton. At this moment, it’s down to us and Gallery Connexion. If most emerging live music happens in a bar setting, where are kids going to be inspired to get involved, and play? I can’t say this for sure…but the lack of first-hand experience probably hinders the growth of a local music scene.

How long have you been presenting live music? 
I started off pretty soon after opening – our first show was in March of 2007 (Great Plains, Slate Pacific, and Wesley Allen Simpson). At the time, I was sharing booking and hosting duties with my partner at the time, Kyle Cunjak. Both of us being involved in the scene already, and having this space unused most evenings – it was a no-brainer. When he left town, I pulled back a bit to focus on the shop. But…I missed it…and have been hosting several shows a month for the last few years.

How do you decide who to book?
Most shows here involve a touring band or two, and I build a bill around them. This city is a perfect pit stop between Halifax and Montreal, and we see a lot of acts coming through on off-nights looking to play. Because I can only manage a small number of shows, really…they feature bands I like. I guess that’s a benefit of being a pop-up venue of sorts – I can be choosy.

The Famines
The Famines

How has the response been? 
It’s a different sort of experience than a bar show, and people appreciate that! I suppose it’s more like a concert…people are super respectful and here to actually watch music. There seems to be an easy exchange between audience and performer, too. There’s no stage here; it’s a small space. Everyone’s on the same level. You can interact with the bands between sets, converse…it’s pretty great.

Do you get good attendance?
Attendance fluctuates…we’ve been packed and next to dead. It depends on what else is happening. Realistically, we’re a small city and the scene can’t support everything. There are a lot of regular show-goers, and they are a dedicated crew. But I’d love to see more people make it out to shows. It’s not an exclusive thing! And our events start at 8 or 9pm versus 11 …so it’s possible to school or work the next day.

What is your schedule?
We aim for two shows a month right now. Saturdays are definitely the eve of choice, but scheduling really depends on the demand from bands.

Walrus
Walrus

Which shows stand out as something special?
That’s tough…so many stand outs! A creepy Ghost Bees set (twin sisters sitting and eerily eye-locked). The Lonely Parade…proficient, young and all-female…they showed up everyone. Calgary’s Viet Cong about a year & a half ago…they’re now playing huge festivals. More recently a show headlined by Monomyth with a special set by Quaker Parents (one of my fav Halifax bands) ’cause they happened to be in town. I think the craziest show (barring a Shifty Bits Circus afterparty) was Apollo Ghosts, Dog Day and a band I played in, Slate Pacific. The crowd swelled outside at one point, along with Apollo Ghosts’ front man. Who was wearing a cape.

Do you have a favourite artist/band you like to present?
I like to diversify programming if I can; keep things fresh. New and/or underage local bands are always a consideration. I tend towards a certain musical aesthetic…more rock than folk (the space kinda dictates this…stand up rather than sit down shows). I’m into a lot of what’s coming out of Saint John, Sackville & Halifax right now. And Calgary.

What is your upcoming schedule? What can people expect to see at reNeu in 2015?
Our next confirmed show is March 28 – a couple of Sackville acts, Klarka Weinwurm, Old Bones…and local Sam Salmon (Brydon Crain of Motherhood fame). I’ve got some interesting things in the works, but nothing I can announce just yet.

I love knowing more about what’s happening in the city and I tip my hat to Heather for bringing music to her unique venue to provide everyone the opportunity to experience live music up-close and personal. I’m sure she likely is fostering the spirits of future musicians who will continue to grow the scene as she suggested!

As always I encourage you all to get out and support live music as well as local business!