Spread over two nights in early January, a themed event protesting against the policies of the Kenney government was held at Broken City on 11th Avenue S.W., overwhelming the promoter with the response from local bands anxious to take part.
B.J. (Killer) Downey of Sailor City Promotions posted the sign-up information on his website in late December, and within minutes, 47 local bands had registered their desire to play.
“As soon as I hit enter on the internet, it just went insane and it was a bit of a scramble to get it organized,” said Downey.
The protest took place under the banner of Downey’s regular event, Rockin’ 4 Dollars, held every Wednesday at Broken City. But the Kenney event had to be expanded to take place over two nights due to the enormous response.
Rockin’ 4 Dollars is an opportunity for people to see local bands playing live for 15 minutes each, and there are normally 7-10 bands each week.
At the end of the evening, the musicians spin a wheel for prizes, including cash.
With such a large number of bands wanting to join in this time, Downey had no choice but to take a second night.
He admitted to being nervous about being the one to suggest such a theme for the event, but realized that somebody had to step up.
The modest amount of pushback Downey has seen on social media has been shut down immediately by supporters, and any negative reaction to the staging of the event has received ten times the number praising the stance being taken by the promoter.
Downey has been promoting live events for 20 years, always with a conscious awareness of the need to stand up for human rights.
He’d noticed that it seems to be common in politics nowadays for campaign promises to be reneged upon once a candidate is in office.
“But it’s hit a new level in Alberta now, and even the people who voted UCP must be feeling let down,” he said.
Rob Gobbler, the guitarist with the band Harsh, played on the first night of the event and came to support fellow musicians on the second.
He spoke of Kenney’s stance on gay rights and the premier being anti-choice as being a couple of reasons he decided to support the event.
“The budget is just insane and I would appreciate some kind of answers,” he added.
Jason Kenney’s office didn’t respond to a request for comment on the event.
There was a $5 cover charge at the door, with all proceeds from the two nights going to the DOAP team and the Indigenous Learning Centre in Calgary.