By B. Simm
CALGARY — Marcus and Carolyn Abrahampson, owners of the Creekside Villa located on the climb up Benchlands Trail in Canmore, proudly proclaim their establishment as a boutique hotel. Both born and bred in the hospitality industry, they were keen to create something different when they focused on their vision for the hotel. Part of the unconventional plan was to pull in Geoff Hilhorst to transform the main dining room into a live music venue.
Hilhorst, who’s well known in Western Canada as a session musician, recording engineering, and formerly the keyboardist for Saskatoon’s Deep Dark Woods, was willing to take on the task but not without certain conditions.
“I said, ‘Here’s what we got to do.’ We need a high-quality PA system, we need to build a stage, and we need some lights if we’re going to make a go of this.” The Abrahampsons agreed and purchased a $9,000 sound system that set Hilhorst in motion.
Since mid-August, the Creekside Villa has had a handful of artists test drive the space, including Romi Mayes and the John Evans Band, a crack country-swing, roots-rock outfit from Austin, TX who were playing a festival in Montana suporting Corb Lund.
Hilhorst is not only pleased with the talent, but also the room’s sound quality. “It’s got bamboo hardwood floors, 150-year-old barn wood walls, and two solid wood beams on the ceiling. As a touring musician, it’s the kind of room you’d want to come back and record a live record in, which we’re able to do as well. It’s definitely not a barroom, but it’s a very special live venue.”
Originally from Brantford, ON, Hilhorst grew up playing music in a little bar called Poor Folks Deli. At only 17, Hilhorst was part of a “top-notch jam” that set up on Saturday afternoons and often featured players from Toronto. “I learned to play by ear, and it was nerve-racking to sit in with that calibre of musicianship. If I ever had the opportunity to set up a venue that gave me the energy that Poor Folks did, I’d jump on it. Because if the music is good, people will come. They’ll appreciate it.”
Upcoming fall season shows at the Creekside Villa in Canmore include:
- Sean Burns —Sun., Sept. 25
- Pretty Archie —Fri., Sept. 30
- Harpdog Brown — Thurs., Oct. 6
- Valdy — Weds., Oct. 23
- Corin Raymond — Thurs., Nov. 24