Threadbare Productions fills gap in music scene in Prince Albert with twice monthly shows at the Spice Trail

Daily Herald File Photo Tadoma is returning as part of a double bill with 66 Aces on Saturday at the Spice Trail after making an impression at the venue in April.

What do you do when there is nothing to do on a Saturday night?

There is a new option in Prince Albert as Clay Cottingham of Threadbare Productions has turned the lounge portion of the Spice Trail into a music venue for every first and third Saturday of the month.

The next show is on Saturday, April 15 with Lutheran and Phased Out.

Cottingham, who books the bands and runs sound, said the idea to turn the Spice Trail into a concert venue came from a discussion with Emma Jean of Prince Albert’s Cupid’s Heart.

“Emma was doing a show there and she said ‘hey if you’re looking for a place you should talk to these people’ so I went up there and she helped me get the first jam night started,” Cottingham said.

Cottingham ran his first sound board for Cupid’s Heart and fellow local artist ‘kay’ in February. He then had a conversation with the ownership of Spice Trail about using The Lounge Trishna as a venue.

“I started off slow,” he explained. “I just had the first couple done up until Lutheran on April 15…. For the first one I just touched base with her again to make sure she was really copasetic wih everything and she was like, ‘yeah.’ (I asked) ‘is it okay if I start booking more shows,” and she was so accommodating.”

Cottingham said he was shocked at how quickly local music lovers started supporting the venue. While there have been challenges, he’s happy with the initial results.

“We are pretty on the same page as far as making sure everybody’s respectful,” he said. “Next time I have a show I will make sure people smoke farther down the way rather than right in front of the doors sort of thing.”

Cottingham had never booked shows in Prince Albert before this came together. Even when living in Vancouver, he didn’t book many shows, spending most of his time as a performer, rather than a promoter.

He did volunteer for the Vancour Jazz Festival and put on a small festival at a park near the PNE.

“That was the only time I ever put a show on and it was just a one-time thing,” he said. “I think I was just sort of disenchanted by it because what I had been told by local university radio was that they would come and take donations for the show.

“But, it was a typical rainy Vancouver day and hardly anybody showed up. I mean all of the bands were there, the bands all showed up. We had a very good setup for that. I wasn’t even doing live sound at that point my friend was helping me do that, so everything pulled together and that sort of stuff.”

Despite the disappointing start, Cottingham decided to try the promotion side again after moving to Prince Albert. He said the lack of small live music venues is what drove his decision.

He explained that since coming to Prince Albert he noticed the lack of small venue live music,

“I just knew that when I came out there was nothing here,” he explained. “Everybody was going to Saskatoon.”

At their show earlier this month, both Tadoma and Driveway Legends made mention of what great music fans Prince Albert has and how they wanted to return.

“I would see somebody that has a bit of an alternative look to them and I would strawman poll them right on the street about where they go for shows around here,” Cottingham said.

He explained that the answer was commonly that there was nothing really in Prince Albert and people would travel to Saskatoon.

He also said that he saw a post on a Prince Albert local chat Facebook page with someone pining for a show in the city. He gave them a free ticket to the first show at the Spice Trail.

“That was what made me make the page and see if there was anybody interested,” Cottingham said. “After the first few days there was all kinds of people coming at me, including Cupid’s Heart, and they were like, ‘let’s get something going.’”

He said that Jean was quite helpful in starting the process. Now they have bands booked all the way up to June 17, with posters and final preparations still underway.

Cottingham plans to hold shows on the first and third Saturdays of the month, with two bands performing per show.

The way the space is set up creates a challenge to have quick turnaround betwen bands, but it has worked for just a small break between sets at the first two shows.

“For the most part, everybody is totally amicable with sharing gear and that’s been pretty good,” Cottingham said. “Of course, the bands have been four or less people. Once you get into five people and they are all trying to jockey for space and where they are going to be standing so they look good and stuff like that it gets a little bit hairier.”

He explained that he uses the number of band members and equipment space needed as a way to set what capacity makes a sellout.

The capacity he set for the Driveway Legends show was 43 including both bands, himself and the door person.

“Everything has been going so smooth and the fans, the audience are just so respectful. I mean it’s just been such a nice thing,” he said.

Cottingham added that the Spice Trail owners have been very happy with the crowds and how respectful they are, regardless of what they look like.

“It’s going to be one of those things that happen inevitably. There is going to be some sort of conflict. Right now, I think everybody is so happy that there is something to do that there isn’t that thing yet and there is no cliquey sort of stuff going on,” Cottingham said,

Cottingham said that his hope for the venue is that people will eventually know that on a boring Saturday they can just go to Spice Trail for a show.

For future bookings look at the Threadbare Productions Facebook and Instagram pages. Cottingham also tries to post to the City of Prince Albert events page.