Yorkton Arts Council and the City of Yorkton's Sidewalk Concert Series is wrapping up this week, with the Remainders, a jazz trio featuring baritone saxophonist Marc Holt, guitarist Michael Stankowski, and bassist Nevin Buehler.
The concert series gave residents to host small gatherings with live music. Each concert was small, and not publicized, in order to keep the gatherings small in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic, with residents inviting friends and neighbors to enjoy the show. The replaced the annual park parties, which were impossible to host due to COVID-19.
Holt recently moved to Yorkton, but this was the first time he has performed in the city. It’s also coming as the band has changed significantly, with two members moving to opposing coasts. Formerly the Marc Holt Quintet, they had been looking for a name change for a while, and Holt says going to the Remainders was something that struck a chord with all of the members.
This set of concerts was an enjoyable one for the group, Holt said, and they were happy to get performing together.
“It was a good time, the audiences were great, it was great to be playing in Yorkton for the first time.”
The sets were short, half-hour sets, which was a first for the group, which is used to playing longer. Holt said that since the trio is evolving, finding out what works with the remaining members, and what doesn’t, it was also a chance to find their new sound and direction as they’re getting back into the groove of performing again.
“I would have thought that only playing half hour sets would be less pressure, but being that we are down another bandmate, we’re trying to fiddle with what our sound is because what we were playing as a five-piece group doesn’t really work as a three-piece. My bandmates are actually from Saskatoon, so they came up Tuesday and we’ve been practicing most of the time we’re not performing, and trying to come up with new stuff to see what’s going to work. It’s definitely interesting to try to work in that half-hour format, but also to try to find a new sound as well.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has naturally put a wrench in the plans of any professional musician, but Holt said he’s taken advantage of the time by practicing more, though he has missed some regular events that they would normally take part in.
“Since 2014, we’ve played the Saskatchewan Jazz Festival every year, so to not have that was super strange for us. The plus side has been that I have extra time on my hands, and I’ve done a lot more practicing, and I’ve done a little travelling that I normally wouldn’t get to as well.”
Of course, any music group wants to play, and Holt is glad that opportunities like the sidewalk series exist.
“To actually finally get to play together again is pretty great.”
Holt thinks that the Sidewalk Concerts are something that was a great idea. While the world is getting more open than when they were originally planned, his first two concerts were to seniors, who otherwise would find it challenging to get out to shows. He sees potential in the series.
“I think it’s something that could stick around. I’ve known a lot of musicians through this pandemic who have started doing similar things. If we can’t play the bars and restaurants we’re used to playing, we’re doing smaller shows in people’s backyards, I even know a couple who worked out a tour of various lakes around the province, and people are booking them for lakefront properties, at different lakes in Northern Saskatchewan to get them to play for them, which sounds pretty great to me.”
Holt is thankful to the Yorkton Arts Council and the City of Yorkton for coming up with the idea, and asking them to be a part of it. Holt is also a board member of the Yorkton Arts Council, and was involved in the planning, but abstained from voting in all motions that had to be made about the series.
With the province steadily reopening, the group is set to hit the road again, and will be playing shows in Saskatoon and North Battleford this month.