MIKE’S MUSINGS: The Quinnie will be missed, especially in the local music scene

Loss of both a historic building and one of Campbell River’s few live music venues is worth mourning

I haven’t been to the Quinsam Hotel in years, and now, obviously, I won’t be going again any time soon.

For those somehow unaware, after a fire late Tuesday night, the local watering hole affectionately – disparagingly by some – known as “The Quinnie” is no more.

There have always been – at least as long as I’ve been around the area – varying opinions on the place. Some saw it as an outdated eyesore where people went to get drunk and rowdy, cause trouble and engage in other less-than-savoury behaviour. Others saw it as a homey, casual, old-school gathering place where personal judgment was left outside, people could be themselves and relax without any pretense of ostentation or perceived requirement of modesty.

The one thing everyone knew, however, was that if you wanted to know where there would be live music on the weekend, the answer was always “The Quinnie.” Many weeknights there would be, as well.

And I think other than the historic aspect of the 100-year-old building itself and the loss of the jobs the place provided, that’s what will be missed most by the community.

There already weren’t enough venues for local musicians to play, and now there’s one fewer.

Many local businesses are getting better at hiring local musicians to come and play once in a while (usually on a Friday or Saturday evening) as background music in the corner – which is great to see – but there aren’t enough places where the local live music is the point of going. Where the musicians on the stage actually have the attention of the people in the room. Where the fact that they are there is appreciated rather than being an obstacle to hearing the conversation around the table.

At the Quinnie, you knew you were going to have to yell across the table, and you were happy for the opportunity to do so, because it meant there were people with guitars and drums just over there.

You also didn’t need to worry about spilling your drink, because the carpet – or whatever those tables were covered in – would probably soak most of it up before it got to the edge and ran into your lap.

And I will always fondly look back on my Sunday nights singing karaoke for five hours. I would show up right at the start – sometimes as the host was setting up – and be able to sing every third or fourth song while the place slowly filled up and people got their liquid courage up to have a turn, then complain at the end of the night that I hadn’t sung in an hour because there were so many who wanted to.

In any case, I guess this is just my goodbye to the old gal.

Hopefully something or someone else steps up to fill the gap that will be surely felt in the local music scene, which needed all the help it could get even before this fire – and now needs even more.