25 years of the Ship & Anchor: Sitting down with musicians

By Lisa Wilton
Illustration: Tom Bagley

Illustration: Tom Bagley

CALGARY — Since the early ‘90s, the Ship has been a hub for local music and a place where musicians of all stripes gather to play, listen and get really hammered. Bev Bruce (BB) and Mark Sadlier-Brown (MSB) of the Sadlier-Brown Band have been regular faces at the Saturday jams for the past 15 years, while Miesha Louie (ML) & the Spanks and Robey Stothart (a.k.a. rapper Sabo Forte – SF) have made their mark on the Ship stage and Calgary music scene in the past decade. They discuss what the Ship means to them:

BeatRoute: Do you remember the first time?

BB: I think it would have been a Saturday jam 15 years ago.

MSB: It’s become like home to us. We don’t usually go other nights, but on Saturday afternoons we own this place.

SF: I think it must be about 12 years since my first show here with my rock band.

I moved here in 2000 from Edmonton and I remember being really excited because this was always a destination stop for us on any road trip. It’s more commonplace now, but this was one of the first places I went to where the mix of music was really eclectic, be it folk, blues, metal and rap music all underneath the same roof. There’s also a collection of people who are really humble as well. There’s no big heads here.

ML: I think it was my band Bogart’s record release in 2004 or 2005 and my parents drove out from Invermere. I just remember it being the biggest deal that we were playing at the Ship & Anchor. It was like, “We’ve made it.”

BR: What’s the difference between playing the Ship compared to other venues?

SF: They let you do what you want here. There’s no agenda here. They already know what you do and they just want to provide the space for you to do it. From management to bartenders to the talent buyers here, they’re all huge music fans.

MSB: The jam sessions are more like open mics here, but what I like about it is a lot of musicians come here to cut their teeth by performing in front of people. Sometimes it doesn’t work out so great, but the crowd is always really supportive of everybody and let’s them know they’re welcome here. And I think that’s really important for a budding musician.

ML: There’s already a community of people who appreciate live music no matter what it is. I love that there’s no cover and they just have a budget for entertainment. You don’t have to worry about guest lists and all that. The music is accessible to everyone.

BR: How’s the Ship audience?

MSB: Well, children are allowed during the Saturday afternoon jam. For me that makes a big difference. A parent can come have a beer. It’s a real family thing.

BB: The all-ages thing is great. There are toddlers and teenagers and grandparents, and everyone is digging it.

SF: The audience is great. You know that you’re probably going to be playing to strangers. It’s nice to play for people who haven’t seen you before. I don’t know if it’s the popularity of the Ship or that there’s no cover, but it’s a really great mix of people. Music is always well received here. No one’s too cool here either. They all want to be part of building a good time. They’re not waiting to be impressed.

MSB: It’s funny, Bev and I love holding babies and the babies we held here 20 years ago are now coming to the Ship.

BeatRoute Magazine December 2015 Alberta print edition cover. Illustration: Tom Bagley

BeatRoute Magazine December 2015 Alberta print edition cover.
Illustration: Tom Bagley

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