Groundswell bandmember Doug Pickard thumbs a few strings at the band’s new practice space in Parksville, which Groundswell is also turning into a new venue for jam sessions, workshops and small concerts. — Adam Kveton Photo

Local band spawns new Parksville venue

GroundZero Acoustic Lounge hopes to host new acts, intimate concerts and workshops

A local rock-and-roll dance band is looking to spread good vibes not just with their music, but with their new practice space.

Groundswell recently acquired a spot next to band member Doug Pickard’s existing business, Fluid Fitness. But instead of just practicing there, the band has decided to open the space up as the area’s newest music venue.

So was born GroundZero Acoustic Lounge. Located at #5, 1176 Franklyn’s Gull Rd., the plan is to have one open mic night a month, one jam session and one concert a month, along with music workshops, said Pickard.

“We kind of felt a need for something like this in town,” he said of the band’s decision to turn their practice space into a venue.

“There’s coffee shops and restaurants and bars that have open mics and whatnot, but there isn’t a place that’s specifically just for music. Like we’re not selling drinks, we’re not selling food, it’s just a place to come listen to music.”

The lounge (pronounced as “gazelle” due to the acronym GZAL, Pickard explained with a laugh) will be an intimate affair, capable of holding about 40 people at a time. But one of the aims of the group is to provide a spot for up-and-coming groups with little live performance experience.

“We’re really going to try to encourage first-timers or fledgling musicians who kind of need a little boost and need a place to play,” said Pickard. “We can do that with our open mics, but we can also do it with our intimate concerts as well, kind of feature them or have them open up for somebody.”

So far, the musicians that Groundswell has reached out to have been positive and supportive of the idea, with locals like Gerry Barnum, Kevin Woodward and WiL expressing interest, Pickard said. More interest has grown through word-of-mouth and social media, he said.

“We’ve had two jam nights already and had a great turnout, and people keep showing up that we don’t know, we don’t know how they found out about us.”

But the GZAL’s first big event is a songwriter’s clinic coming up Friday, Jan. 19 with contemporary roots artist WiL. Tickets for the clinic are $20 at Cranky Dog Music, or $25 at the door.

The next open mic night is Saturday, Jan. 27 at 7 p.m.

While the venue project is an exciting one for the band, with Pickard and lead singer Megan Keene taking point on it, they’re also looking to bring in some people to help host events so that Groundswell can keep focused on making music as well.

“It’s all happened very quickly,” said Pickard. “Couldn’t be happier with how it’s gone so far.”

For more info on the GroundZero Acoustic Lounge, go to gzalounge.com.

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