Take six random musicians, add a list of songs, then let them practice for 24 hours. For the past decade, Saskatoon’s Band Swap has been cooking up this fool proof recipe for a night of musical entertainment.
“We have had bands in the past where nobody played the drums, or everybody played the drums, or nobody was really that comfortable singing, and it just works out,” co-organizer Mairin Loewen said.
Lowen said her and a group of friends started the event as a way to meet fellow musicians and play with people outside their own bands.
They combined ideas from 24-hour play writing contests and cover band competitions to create an event where musicians are randomly paired up in groups then assigned songs they have to create a set list from and perform the next day.
This year’s sold out 10th anniversary features seven bands picked from 35 musicians. Money raised goes to charity.
“It’s not important that it sound all that great, but it is important to be enthusiastic and have fun,” Lowens said, adding they only have two rules “Don’t take yourself too seriously and no Nickleback.”
Jeff Prankev hasn’t broken either of those rules in the seven years he’s been participating, but the musician has heard virtually everything else.
“Electronic dance songs done live with fiddles and accordions, from the Vengaboys to Eiffel 65, it’s pretty much all been covered over the years,” he said with a laugh. “It’s like karaoke with a live band.
Prankev said he wanted to stretch his music tastes and play with new people. The biggest challenges is managing all the personalities of people you may not know, he said.
“You’ll never have idea what songs you’re going to get, (and) how your people are going to play, and when it comes together like that, it’s just a really special thing,” he said.
The concert also gives smaller bands a chance to perform in front of a sold-out audience for what may be their first time.
Loewens said they want to continue Band Swap well into the future, but don’t have any special plans.
“Don’t fix it if it ain’t broke.”