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Loaded Mic concert series prepares to fire final shots

The last edition of a local concert series will happen in Flin Flon this weekend.
P28 Loaded Mic 1
Lane Laderoute performs at a Loaded Mic concert at Johnny's Social Club.

The last edition of a local concert series will happen in Flin Flon this weekend.

Loaded Mic, a succession of concerts meant to promote local arts and musicians, will have its final run on stage this weekend. The last show of its current form, Loaded Mic 14, will take place at Johnny’s Social Club July 16. The show features a deep cast of local talent, with no fewer than 17 artists already on the bill for the one-night-only show. The concert will be recorded, but will not be streamed online until a future date.

The show will serve as a farewell of sorts to the Flin Flon arts scene by organizer Trevor Sytnick. A teacher at Hapnot Collegiate by day and a musician and producer by night, Sytnick is leaving Flin Flon to take on a new job in British Columbia - the Loaded Mic show will be the last one he plans out before leaving town.

“This is it - this is the last official show,” Sytnick said.

“That this is the last show… it’s so crazy. It’s weird, but it’s starting to feel very weird now.”

When the shows began, Sytnick saw Loaded Mic as a way to both provide talented musicians with a chance to play for an appreciative crowd and for budding young artists to get time on the Johnny’s stage, playing short sets in front of a full house. The first year Loaded Mic was held was in 2017, when many members of Flin Flon’s longstanding arts establishment were busy preparing for the Flin Flon Community Choir’s production of Grease.

“We started thinking of ways to do a show without needing a full rehearsal,” Sytnick said.

The name came from the concept of an open mic night, but with the occasional ringer or experienced performer coming in to guarantee quality - therefore, to borrow a term from gambling, rigging or loading the deck. The idea of a loaded mic showed a mix of both new and familiar talent, opening the stage to new faces with perhaps only a song or two in their repertoire while still giving time to older hands.

“There were people who couldn’t perhaps do a full show, but they could do two songs really well, then that leads to them doing more shows and then doing their own shows. It’s a lot less risky to come and do two songs,” Sytnick said.

“It’s almost like a NBA Summer League for the big time.”

During the pandemic, Loaded Mic shows were held to an empty room with COVID-19 precautions taken and the results streamed online. The shows were among the first ones in Flin Flon to be livestreamed - a practice that is now commonplace locally.

Looking back over the previous Loaded Mic shows and the fundraisers and other events that it inspired in the years to come, Sytnick is proud of the effect the shows had on fostering new talent and producing original music.

“I think the biggest thing was in general, seeing the amount of original music that started coming out of these. A lot of people dipped their toes in the water with their first-ever original songs at Loaded Mic, or their first original songs in a long time - now they’re putting out albums and doing full shows of original music,” Sytnick said.

“We had a whole original music night - that was a frontier that was never really was explored by a lot of people.”

Making original music, Sytnick said, requires a certain mindset and space to work in - a space he feels Loaded Mic helped establish.

“It's a lot tougher to sell and you need the right environment for it to grow - and now, it's blossoming. That's a big accomplishment, I would say.”

While its lead organizer is leaving, don’t be too surprised to see similar shows staying in Flin Flon long-term. Other key organizers in Flin Flon arts may take on the mantle, Sytnick said, though they may do so under different names.

“I know the Loaded Mic format is going to continue. It’s too easy to do - it’s low commitment. Nobody has to have five rehearsals with a band - it’s, ‘hey, come over to my house with a guitar and we’ll learn songs’ or ‘let’s sit by the piano and play some songs,’” Sytnick said.

The final Loaded Mic will start at Johnny’s at 8 p.m., with doors opening at 7:30 p.m.