Who says it’s all nostalgia acts? Grey Eagle Event Centre is one casino that’s unlike the others

Thursday 07th, April 2016 / 11:28
By Paul Rodgers
Buffy Sainte-Marie performing live during the JUNOfest Indigenous Showcase at the Grey Eagle Event Centre. The casino has earned a reputation for itself of bucking the trend of casinos being a performing hub only for washed-up, 1980s nostalgia acts. Photo: Retrieved from Grey Eagle Resort & Casino's Facebook page.

Buffy Sainte-Marie performing live during the JUNOfest Indigenous Showcase at the Grey Eagle Event Centre. The Grey Eagle’s talent bookings spanning multiple genres challenge the stereotype of casinos only being venues for washed-up nostalgia acts.
Photo: Retrieved from Grey Eagle Resort & Casino’s Facebook page.

CALGARY — There may be those who, when they think of casino entertainment, jump to washed-up, ‘80s one-hit-wonders in their mind. However, at the Grey Eagle Resort & Casino, this misconception could not be further from the mark; their bookings include Wu-Tang Clan, M83, The Offspring, Megadeth, Diana Ross and much more. BeatRoute spoke to their Event Centre entertainment director Russ Giroux to find out what sets them apart from other similar establishments.

“I don’t think we ever subscribed to that model, I don’t think it’s sustainable. It may work in other parts of the country and the world but it won’t work in Calgary,” says Giroux, speaking on traditional casino programming. “Calgary is a town full of music lovers and they want quality talent, so you gotta bring what people want to see and what they want to spend good money on.”

When asked if, like in other casinos, their events experience a lot of walk-in traffic, Giroux explained, “We’re very much a hard ticket venue, which is a different model than a lot of typical casino venues, especially compared to the U.S. That’s why our shows, when you look at our calendars, it’s not a typical casino entertainment. It runs the gamut.”

Giroux himself used to be a tour manager for bands like Matthew Good and Joe Satriani and personally loves getting to see some of his favourite groups and bands that he’s worked with come through.

With Calgary experiencing the closure of venues like Ten Nightclub or The Republik in recent months, music fans may be experiencing some dread about the state of the music scene. While Giroux explains that clubs like these are not in their “competitive set” (which would be venues in the 2,500-3,000 capacity like Mac Hall or the Jubilee) he does not like to see places close down.

“Anything that exposes people to live music is good for the industry so I hate to see venues closing down,” he says. “It’s bad for patrons, it’s bad for bands and it’s obviously bad for the people who are employed by those venues.”

Check the Grey Eagle’s website to keep up with their event schedule. Upcoming April shows include Collective Soul, Joe Satriani, George Thorogood, Death From Above and M83.

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