To celebrate their eighth anniversary, Brandon’s Beetles will be doing no fewer than eight shows at the English Pavilion throughout the course of Winter Fest weekend.
This year Lieutenant Governor’s Winter Festival marks its 11th year and we may be down to 10 pavilions but the annual trip around the globe still features many magical musical moments. For a brief synopsis of what is on the music and entertainment menu check out the handy sidebar feature in this week’s Happenings.
Sawchuk Sisters (Brenna and Brooklyn) with their proud papa on stage at Canada’s National Ukrainian Festival 2011 . (SUBMITTED)
I enjoy hitting all the pavilions but one of my all-time favorite stops on the Winterfest tour trail is the English Pavilion and this year marks a special anniversary for a band that has become much more than just an added feature at the pavilion. They have become one of the most popular local music attractions to ever take the stage. We’re talking about Brandon’s the Beetles!
Who better to catch us up with the latest news on Brandon’s favourite tribute act than the group’s founder, Mo Karouze. Mo recently took some time out of his busy schedule to take part in this rapid-fire Q & A session.
Frank: The 11th annual Lieutenant Governor’s Winter Festival marks the eight-year anniversary of the Brandon’s Beetles. First off, happy anniversary to you and the guys in the band! Did you ever think when you started this particular musical outfit that you’d still be doing it eight years later?
Mo: No, we really had no idea how much fun we'd have and how well received the band and the music would be.
Frank: Starting this band as an added feature for the British Pavilion was a great idea by the way. The line-up was a bit different back then right?
Mo: The first-ever English Pavilion welcomed a different keyboard player than we work with now. Kevin Pahl started with the band, before his move to warmer temperatures in British Columbia. Dale Normandeau, a great local guitarist was a member of the initial lineup. The band consists of keyboard player, Ken Jarvin, guitarist Jim Andrey, bassist John Schellenberg, lead vocalist Jon Chiupka and myself on the drum kit.
Frank: How many Beetles covers did you perform for your first gig eight years ago?
Mo: We put the band together in a four-week period, learning 15 songs, which we looped at the first pavilion!
Frank: However the band has really come a long way since those humble beginnings. What you guys deliver on stage truly has escalated to a full-fledged major stage production which can be considered more than just another tribute act. Kudos to you for that! How many songs do you guys have in the repertoire now?
Mo: We have progressed to well over 50 songs in our repertoire now — we could easily play for three hours without repeating a tune. We have really enjoyed the embellishments that have evolved along with our desire to make The Beetles an "experience", not just another group of musicians playing the Fab Four's tunes.
Frank: You’re all hard working tax paying citizens that have many other responsibilities in life, so how do you find time to practice and how often do you guys practice?
Mo: We all have busy lives with work, family and other obligations but we are a close knit bunch of guys who just love to play. We enjoy each other's company and look forward to practising, usually once a week.
Frank: What was the most difficult song for you guys to learn?
Mo: Each Beetle has his nemesis! Mine was "Live and Let Die." It’s a real challenge for a drummer. You can't let your mind wander even for a second.
Frank: Nice to know you do also solo stuff from their catalogue! What is your favorite Beatles tune to perform?
Mo: I have a lot of favourites but I'd have to say that I really love "Let it Be." It speaks to me and the audience always appreciates it.
Frank: What were some of your most memorable gigs over the past year?
Mo: We've had few, but we had a blast playing the Canada Day gig in Virden. The crowd was awesome and much larger than anyone had anticipated. We also played a great show in Dauphin as a fundraiser for their Community Foundation. New Year’s at the Vic was great and of course, we always look forward to coming home to the English Pavilion.
Frank: For those who are planning to catch your shows at the British Pavilion, when are your set times?
Mo: Set times at the pavilion vary from evening to evening, but we will be playing three sets per night between the hours of 6:45 p.m. and 1 a.m. and will be playing a matinee on Saturday at 4 p.m.
Frank: A little birdie told me you’ll be serving up a side of "Bangers and Mash" on the entertainment menu this year. Can you shed some light on this new group?
Mo: We are really excited to be welcoming a "purpose built" little group, led by Brandon's foremost songstress, Lisa Vasconzales. She and her pals have been preparing a variety of English tunes for this year's pavilion and I know they will not disappoint!
Frank: Do you have any shows with the Beetles coming up after Winter Fest?
Mo: We have a couple weeks before we play the Lion's Club National Convention, as well as a gig the same month for the province's community planners at their convention being held at the Keystone. Never a dull moment!
ANAF Hall, 31 - 14th St.
Hours: Thursday 6 p.m. 12 a.m., Friday 6 p.m. 12:30 a.m., Saturday 1 p.m. 1 a.m.
Thursday: Open 6pm with pub music, 6:45 p.m. 7:45 p.m. The Beetles, 7:45 p.m. 8:30 p.m. pub music, 8:30 p.m. 9:30 p.m. The Beetles, 9:30 p.m. 10:30 p.m. pub music, 10:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. The Beetles.
Friday: Open 6 p.m. with pub music, 6:45 p.m. 7:30 p.m. Bangers and Mash, 7:30 p.m. 8:30 p.m. pub music, 8:30 p.m. 9:30 p.m. The Beetles, 9:30 p.m. 10:15 p.m. pub music, 10:15 p.m. 11 p.m. Bangers and Mash, 11 p.m. 11:45 p.m. pub music, 11:45 p.m. 12:45 a.m. The Beetles
Saturday: Open 1 p.m. with pub music, 2 p.m. 2:45 p.m. Bangers and Mash, 3 p.m. to 3:45 p.m. The Morris Men dancers (traditional English folk dancing), 4 p.m. 5 p.m. The Beetles, 5 p.m. 6 p.m. pub music, 6 p.m. 6:45 p.m. Bangers and Mash, 7:30 p.m. 8:30 p.m. The Morris Men Dancers, 9 p.m. 10 p.m. The Beetles, 10:30 p.m. 11:15 p.m. Bangers and Mash, 11:15 p.m. 12 a.m. pub music, 12 a.m. 1 a.m. The Beetles
Ukrainian National Home, 1133 Stickney Ave.
Hours: Thursday 6 p.m. 11 p.m., Friday 6 p.m. 12 a.m., Saturday 1 p.m. 1 a.m.
Shows start every 45 minutes beginning at 6:20 on Thursday and Friday and 1:30 Saturday afternoon.
The Brazilian pavilion promises an exciting, high energy show featuring a capoeira performance as well as traditional Brazilian dances including maculelê, puxada de rede, and samba.
Central United Church, 327 8th St.
Hours: Thursday 6 p.m. 11 p.m., Friday 6 p.m. 11 p.m., Saturday 1 p.m. 11 p.m.
First Nation Pavilion 205 College Ave.
Salons A & B Victoria Inn, 3550 Victoria Ave.
Hours: Thursday 6 p.m. 11 p.m., Friday 6 p.m. 12a.m., Saturday 1 p.m. 1 a.m.
On stage entertainment will run approximately every two hours with no set start times.
Entertainment includes: The local Alpine Express Show band, the Regina Edelweiss Dancers and the Winnipeg Neuschwanstein Dancers. Once again the organizers of the German pavilion promise "something special" on Saturday afternoon.
Global Village Pavilion
St. Matthew’s Cathedral, 403 13th St.
Hours: Thursday 6 p.m. 10 p.m., Friday 6 p.m. 11 p.m., Saturday 1 p.m. 11 p.m.
Entertainment and cultural presentations will be on going throughout the weekend.
Trinity United Church, 1515 6th St.
Hours: Thursday Closed, Friday 6 p.m. 11 p.m., Saturday 1 p.m. 11 p.m.
• Traditional musical groups along with Mayan, Folkloric and Garifuna dance groups will perform every hour throughout Friday and Saturday evenings.
Royal Oak Inn, 3130 Victoria Ave.
Hours: Thursday 6 p.m. 11 p.m., Friday 6 p.m. 12 a.m., Saturday 1 p.m. 12 a.m.
The McConnell School of Dance who will be dazzling everyone with their footwork and traditional full dress regalia. Other entertainment includes: the New Celtic String Band featuring the Uillean Pipes, Shamus O’jibway and high energy shows by the alternative Celtic rock sounds of FUGR!
Imperial Ballroom, 3550 Victoria Ave.
Hours: Thursday 6 p.m. 11 p.m., Friday 6 p.m. 1 a.m., Saturday 1 p.m. 11 p.m.
Entertainment includes: Highland dancers, singers and musicians from the Westman area. Two Main shows will run for an hour starting at 6:45 nightly with an extra late show added on to the Friday night schedule.
Ukrainian Reading Hall, 1005 Assiniboine Ave.
Hours: Thursday 6 p.m. 11 p.m., Friday 6 p.m. 11 p.m., Saturday 1 p.m. 11 p.m.
Shows run for 45 minutes, every 30 minutes past the hour.
The Sawchuk sisters are back by popular demand! These amazing violinists and duet singers had a busy schedule this past year that included performances at Canada’s National Ukrainian Festival in Dauphin and at Rainbow Stage in Winnipeg! The sisters will be featured on stage along with the Ukrainian Band. Also included on the entertainment schedule are the Troyanda School of Dance of Brandon and Teren Dancers from Oakburn. In addition, Saturday’s performances will include two 45-minute mini-concerts put on by Brandon’s own Ukrainian-Canadian Association group called TRYZUB.
Please note that The First Nation Pavilion has been cancelled for 2014.
Frank McGwire is a radio personality and booster of the music scene in Brandon and Westman.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition January 30, 2014