Submitted by Hywel Davies
A firm Fernie favourite, Jam Night at the Brickhouse has made a name for itself as a well-established musical institution for several years now. The Brickhouse can be seen as having two separate personalities; one being a stylish bar and grill that cooks your food right in front of you, and the other a vibrant music venue to house Fernie’s creative talents. This is no easy task! Jam nights and open mic events anywhere can be a hit or miss. All it takes to shatter a perfectly enjoyable evening is for one intoxicated person who thinks they’re the second coming of Hendrix; it’s not pretty. Thankfully, last week’s Brickhouse Jam Night was nothing like that.
Jam night host Rick Miller thoroughly engaged himself in the evenings festivities. Being a multi-instrumentalist himself, it was no problem for Miller to get the ball rolling with fellow bassist and guitarist Miguel Abarca. Improvising a medley of funk, blues and classic rock ‘n’ roll, the ever growing crowd took an immediate liking and actively got involved. Good times were in no short supply. At one point, an older gentleman decided it would be best if he took the microphone and got up on stage to sing his blues away. The fact that no one minded and actually embraced this bold move summed up what an open mic night should be about. He didn’t even do a bad job of singing either.
The real treat of the evening came when local solo instrumentalist Bevan Cuthbertson took to the stage and provided the audience with an outstanding feature of musical talent. A pioneer in the revolutionary percussive acoustic style of Andy McKee, Cuthbertson supported the singer-songwriter Ash Grunwald to a sold-out crowd at The Royal in February. This would be his final “Jam Night” performance in Fernie before returning to Australia.
Taking what is a notoriously difficult style of playing, Cuthbertson’s laid back attitude seemed to let his music flow out naturally, painting vivid and colourful images in the imagination of his audience. With a sublime knowledge of his instrument, he switched from one style to another effortlessly in a display of heightened musical instinct and discipline. Hiding behind a humble cloak of modesty, the strong silent protagonist commanded the entire attention of all that were present. With every note resonating magically, the atmosphere was festive and fun. An animated dance floor soon erupted and people were scrambling to get a glimpse. There was a fine line whether or not the audience was amazed or aroused. After a splendid encore, it was clear that Fernie was going to miss Cuthbertson’s incredible aura of musicianship.
Being a Thursday night regular himself, when asked how he felt about the Jam Night and what it meant to him, Cuthbertson responded, “[It is] the saddest and happiest collection of love, friends and new beginnings.” It was hard to disagree. Despite big name 80s rock/reggae band Big Sugar playing down the street, it was a tremendous credit to Cuthbertson’s reputation to see his loyal fans turn out in force to see him off with gusto.
Another fine night at the Brickhouse, with music and dancing that lasted until the wee hours of the morning. Arguably the most entertaining night of the week, Jam Night showcases Fernie’s best musicians regularly. A night that has yet to disappoint.