Just a little light

Wednesday nights at the Wilser’s Room just got brighter (Submitted)
Wednesday nights at the Wilser’s Room just got brighter (Submitted)

The Wilser’s Room at the Capital Complex is known for entertaining Wednesday night bar-goers with reggae band Dub Antenna. The band’s recent decision to take a six-month break has put their syncopated beats on hold and brought forth an exciting opportunity for Fredericton musicians.

The bar has since been offering month-long residencies for Wednesday night performers, which has allowed for music to range from to Hard-Rock to ’80s karaoke. For the first time, local band Just a Little Light is channelling their inner Jerry Garcia and rocking the sweet psychedelic tunes of Grateful Dead.

On the cold Wednesday night homage was paid to the unlucky souls who have made the drunken tumble down these stairs by holding the railing as tight as possible. On the patio leading up to the Wilser’s Room, small groups huddle in tight circles, thick clouds of cigarette smoke rise from the centers. Girls in long tie-dye dresses hold each other, perhaps with the optimistic hope that their summer garb will make the snow-banks in our gray city melt faster.

After taking off my mittens and hunting through my bag for a crumpled $5 bill, the bearded doorman takes it and gives me a nod before opening the door.

The small room is packed with people from every social group in our city: Pseudo-hippies dancing with dreadlocks flailing, off duty bar staff buying lines of short-rums from the corner bar and girls in tight dresses bobbing with the music while simultaneously checking their iPhones. The No-Fun Zone, a collaboration of live artists has their canvas set up in front of the stage, and dance while painting the colourful scene. It is fair to say that the only commonality among this group of people are the grins on their faces.

The five-piece band of seasoned musicians Ian Beattie, Dave Cunningham, Bruce Devlin, Jonathan Dutcher and Matt Fitzgerald play together as if they have for years, despite being a relatively new. Beattie is the front man for Just a Little Light and has been a ‘Dead Head’ for over a decade. He hopes that through their residency audiences will not only find joy, but begin to grasp what influential music can do.

“Not enough people listen to real rock and roll anymore,”  he said. “Grateful Dead is rock and roll.”

The music of the Grateful Dead brings more to Fredericton than just a reason to dance and drink on Wednesday nights. It brings the warmth of summer back into the lives of those whose hearts have iced over from a much-too-long winter. After all, the Dead are one of the original bands that inspired the summer music festival, and their influence on the music scene is one reason why music-lovers are flocking to festivals such as Bonnaroo and Coachella, Evolve and Folly Fest.

“I used to think Grateful Dead was a death-metal band so I never listened to them,” she said. “I’m glad that I was wrong, the music was clearly making people happy,” said Katie Pierce, STU student and non-listener to Dead music.

After this winter, Fredericton music lovers deserve some happy tunes. It’s amazing what just a little light can do.

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