Times Change(d) celebrates five years and a lot of living

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Five years ago, a patron of a little club at the corner of Main Street and St. Mary Avenue took over. In those five years, a lot has happened. Bands have come and gone, drinks have been served, chickens have been tossed, and a vibrant community has been built. That patron, John Scoles, now celebrates the fifth anniversary of his little club that has become one of Winnipeg's favourite music venues: Times Change(d) High & Lonesome Club.

The club itself has been operating for about 20 years, but Scoles took over five years ago when its owner wanted to close. Since then, Scoles has worked tirelessly to create a fun environment where the audience feels a part of things and primarily independent artists are treated like gold. Scoles' effort have paid off, developing a community of die-hard patrons who don't just come for the music, they come for the experience and the friends that have been created.

That sense of community came in handy during the club's financial dispute with its landlord in 2004. Scoles vacated the club, which ran under different management for several months while Scoles held fundraising concerts for a new space. Music fans and artists turned out to help Scoles keep his vision alive before the club was eventually returned to Scoles' care.

Specializing in roots, folk, blues, and alt.country, Times Change(d)'s small staging area has been graced by the likes of Juno-nominated act Nathan, local blues legend Big Dave McLean, and bluegrass misfits D.Rangers. In addition to a strong contingent of local music, Times Change(d) has played to host to many top touring acts, including blues mainstay Sue Foley.

Foley will help the club celebrate its anniversary by playing January 20 and 21. The celebration kicks off on January 19 with Matt Monsoon and the Riff Ryders (who release their new CD Chicken Run), Corb Lund Band's Grant Siemens, The Perpetrators, and Andrew Neville & The Poor Choices. Other acts performing over the four-night party include Righteous Ike and Debra Lyn Neufeld.

January 22 will be the fourth anniversary of the club's popular Whisky Awards. Patrons vote for winners in such categories as Song of the Year, Singer of the Year, Moment of the Year, and Fan of Year. One of the strangest categories is Chicken Tosser of the Year, which honours the club's beloved game of throwing a rubber chicken into a bucket.

The awards and the anniversary celebrations are an extension of Scoles' philosophy - which is articulately shared with countless recipients of his weekly email newsletters - and community-building. Scoles' motto pretty much sums it up: "We Gotta Lotta Livin' To Do. Let's Do It Together."

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