Situated near the shores of Protection Island sits the Dinghy Dock Pub, the nation’s only floating pub.
It’s a place where, for years, musicians have gathered on a regular basis to showcase their talents.
But it wasn’t always that way.
In 2010, singer-songwriter Daniel Wesley had recently begun performing as a solo acoustic artist.
“Daniel had been playing a lot of shows with a band at Old City and the Queen’s, but then he started doing his acoustic thing and then I thought, where would it be good to have him?” said Andrew Roberts, founder of GotPop? Concerts.
Roberts knew that musicians sometimes performed at the Dinghy Dock, so he decided to give the floating pub a shot.
“I hadn’t really gone over there and I had heard about it that musicians were playing there,” Roberts said. “We announced the show, announced the sale and it sold out within a week. So we added a second show and that sold out within a week. Then we added a third show and that sold out.”
The performances at the Dinghy Dock were so popular and the experience was so positive that a year later, Roberts decided to create On the Dock, a biweekly acoustic series that features local musicians and bigger acts.
“Those shows went really well so I wanted to see how we could keep using that,” he said. “We’ve been able to have some amazing acts there.”
Among the more than 200 artists to take the stage at the floating pub include The Lion The Bear The Fox, Murray Atkinson of The Odds, Hayley Sales, Wil, Vince Vaccaro, Candace Curr, Shane Philip, No Operator and Mikaila Tombe.
Getting to the Dinghy Dock isn’t as simple as walking into a bar. One boards a ferry at Nanaimo Harbour for a 10-minute crossing that providing spectacular views.
“It is a great experience to go on the ferry and come back,” Roberts said. “You’re not just walking into a bar. This is something special.”
Tickets to each show at the Dinghy Dock are $20 and include a round trip ticket for the ferry. Scheduled performers are given a batch of 20 tickets to sell on their own. If the artist is able to sell all 20 tickets, they receive a $50 bonus.
“For a half hour self, a solo artist can make $250,” Roberts said. “A lot of artists are really stoked on that because normally they get $50 or $75 to play three hours or two hours, but this is a showcase with three artists a night. Each artist puts in the work together to sell the tickets. It’s not just on one person.”
Roberts loves heading over to the Dinghy Dock Pub, regardless of the weather.
“I still have fun going on the ferry even when it is cold and rainy because you’re going to a floating pub.”
David Bitonti, Brian Hazelbower and Genevieve Rainey perform Friday (Nov 27).