Kyle and Marty Shepard are the father-son duo known as The Big Mess. They performed at the China Steps in downtown Nanaimo as part of a free concert series hosted by CHLY radio station and the Downtown Nanaimo Business Improvement Association.

Kyle and Marty Shepard are the father-son duo known as The Big Mess. They performed at the China Steps in downtown Nanaimo as part of a free concert series hosted by CHLY radio station and the Downtown Nanaimo Business Improvement Association.

Ask an expert – entertainment

I’m a university student and don’t have much money. What does Nanaimo’s night life have to offer that won’t break the bank?

I’m a student at Vancouver Island University and don’t have much money. What does Nanaimo’s night life have to offer that won’t break the bank?

Take a walk through downtown Nanaimo and you’ll probably hear music floating out of one door or another.

Most restaurants, pubs and bars offer live music on the weekends to attract customers. Acme Food Co. offers jazz most weekends, as does Front Street Grill.

Diners Rendezvous and the Queen’s events run from ticketed events, like blues and rock bands, to open mike jam nights with little or no cover charges.

Nanaimo is such a mecca for artists, you never really know who will pick up the guitar each night.

You can often get cheap cover – or even free cover – to the nightclubs downtown if you go on a weeknight (perhaps one that isn’t followed by an early morning class).

While the entertainment is free, the place is still a business – spring for a drink or share an appetizer with a friend.

Harbourfront library offers free readings from B.C. authors almost every week.

Terminal Park Starbucks plays host to writers in residence who share their original stories monthly, and during the winter, Wordstorm gathers poets, authors and spoken word performers. Participation is encouraged, but completely optional.

Another option is to volunteer with venues or community arts groups.

Most organizations operate on a shoestring budget and rely heavily on volunteers to help with set building, lighting and costumes, plus front of house duties like ticket sales and ushering.

Volunteers are usually treated very well – you might find yourself with some complimentary tickets if you don’t get to watch the show on your shift.

And if you’re new to Nanaimo, volunteering is a great way to meet new friends.

arts@nanaimobulletin.com

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