While many bands had to cancel their shows at The Common and 9910 due to COVID-19, these venues haven’t stopped supporting local artists. Earlier this month, 9910 and The Common have launched “9910 Bottles of Beer on the Wall” program — a pick-up and delivery service that pairs beer with merch sales, the first of its kind in Edmonton.
Customers can choose from a variety of local band merchandise (including records, CDs and t-shirts), local beer and The Common’s cocktail kits, and order online through the website. Both pick-up and delivery are available. Afterwards, 100 per cent of profits from merch sales will go directly to the bands, along with 10 per cent of drink sales.
Clint Frazier, the venue manager at 9910, came up with a program as a way to support the local musicians, record labels, and local breweries, and give the community a chance to connect with their favourite artists in the absence of live shows.
“I’ve been a musician myself for 20 years and I toured all over the world and I know how hard it can be to make it in the music industry, and also to make a living doing music — it’s hard enough as it is … until something like COVID happens and there’s a pandemic,” says Frazier. “And the one way you can make money is by playing live shows and selling merchandise, which you can’t do anymore. So I thought, how could I help out my music community and my fellow musicians?”
Through this program, Frazier says people can get the live concert experience at their home.
The organizers have partnered up with 150 local artists and 15 local breweries (including Bent Stick Brewing, Analog Brewing and Blindman Brewing). Launched in the first week of May, the program has already raised roughly $4,000 for Edmonton artists.
Frazier hopes the program will also give 9910 a chance to still be there when COVID is over (but he recognizes that it may take a long while — as the health and safety of patrons remain the number one concern).
“I don’t think having a bunch of sweaty drunk people in a small basement is a good idea at this point,” says Frazier. “So it’s going to take some time, but when it reopens, we’ll just have to get creative and figure out ways to make it entertaining and fun, and not seem so sterile. And I feel like there’s going to be a lot of weirdness when the venues finally reopen … we’ll be trying to find fun ways to do different kinds of programming, whether doing more seated events or lower capacity events. It’s just too early to tell what it’s going to look like.”
In the meantime, he hopes that the sales from the merchandise will help supplement the bands’ income.
“Because a lot of bands were going to tour this summer or play at a bunch of festivals or play a bunch of shows around town,” says Frazier. “I know a lot of bands that I have involved with the program actually had shows booked at 9910 and The Common this spring and summer, and that was my starting point … Those were the first ones that came to mind.”
Regardless of the music you listen to, Frazier says there’s something for everyone. The list features dozens of local bands and musicians, including Marlaena Moore, Rhythm of Cruelty, No Problem, Scenic Route to Alaska, The Velveteins and Royal Tusk.
“We have a really wide demographic of music — everything from punk, funk, folk, country, alternative rap, you name it … I booked pretty much every genre under the sun when it comes to The Common and 9910,” says Frazier. “So I had a really large net to cast. And it was really cool to see some people check out different bands that they’ve never heard of.”
While the program is still in its early stages, the response and the support he’s seen in the community tells him he’s on the right path.
“It’s been absolutely amazing so far … I think people really miss live music,” says Frazier. “And it’s a nice way for fans to interact with the artists in the bands again — you can buy one of the records and tag them and be like, ‘Hey, I bought your record from this and hope you’re doing well.’ Because we can’t see each other and we have such a strong music community in Edmonton. And it’s really hard to not see your friends. It’s all about the music, of course, but it’s also the big social aspect of going out and hanging out with your friends at the bar and seeing your friends’ bands play or bands that you like. So this is a way that we can keep in touch.”