When Colombian band De Bruces A Mí take the stage on Thursday night (July 2), it will be the group’s very first performance on Canadian soil.
The musicians will have travelled some 6,500 kilometres from their hometown of Medellin, Colombia to make their Canadian debut in an unlikely place, Nanaimo.
One of the men responsible for bringing De Bruces A Mí to the Harbour City is local promoter Simon Schachner.
“I am really into music,” Schachner said. “Particularly reggae and world music.”
As a former radio show host, Schachner is well connected with the international music scene.
“I’d go to music festivals and interview bands and that was one of the main ways I got to know bands,” he said.
Schachner’s pathway to music promoter began nearly a decade ago, when he grew tired of seeing international artists pass over Nanaimo.
“There were some good bands coming through the area and they would get off the ferry and they would play Cumberland and Victoria,” Schachner said.
In 2007, Schachner, who had some experience organizing events, decided enough was enough and organized his very first show, attracting roots group Ibo & Kindred to the Vault Cafe.
“I made some posters up and … I had 70 people show up,” he said.
Since then, Schachner, who ran for Nanaimo city council back in 2008, has attracted over 30 international acts to the Harbour City, including Clinton Fearon and Souljah Fyah.
Schachner also helped create the Nanaimo Reggae Massive, a Nanaimo-based international music and community group dedicated to reggae and world music.
Thursday’s show will the first show that Schachner has promoted since he returned from the Yukon in 2014.
“When a community is culturally vibrant and connected to musical scenes throughout the region and around the world, it feels good to be here,” Schachner said.
Attracting international talent to the Harbour City can be expensive and typically needs to be organized at least six months ahead of time.
In order to perform in Canada, bands and solo artists, as well as any crew members, must apply for a temporary foreign workers permit, which costs $150 per person. According to Schachner, Canada is not very receptive to artists hailing from the Middle East, Africa and South America.
“[Canada] has a reputation for being difficult to get into,” he said.
Many of the international artists who do come to Nanaimo are often well-known names in their home country and are used to playing to large crowds
Schachner said foreign artists who come to Nanaimo don’t expect big crowds, adding that even with a small turnout they will often leave the city with a positive impression.
“The band will remember that and they will talk about it,” he said. “It spreads and we will get more bands. It is fun to be a part of that.”
Although Nanaimo is thousands of kilometres away from some of the artists’ homes, Schachner said Nanaimoites have come out and supported international talent in the past.
“I would say [the support] is quite strong given the size of the community and that distance from the Caribbean,” he said.
By bringing international talent to the city, Schachner hopes to do more than just fill seats.
“It is not just a numbers game,” he said. “I want to develop culture in Nanaimo,” he said.
De Bruces A Mí perform at the Queen’s on Thursday at 9 p.m. Tickets are $15 in advance and can be purchased at the Port Theatre box office by calling firstname.lastname@example.orgFollow @npescod on Twitter