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Sudbury's musical scene maturing
By LYNDA FRAPPIER, FOR THE SUDBURY STAR
Don't be surprised if people start calling Sudbury "the jazz capital of the North."
Beverly Byard and Mark Cormack would be fine with that. They've been bringing jazz acts to the stage of Little Montreal since they opened the bar and deli almost three years ago.
Cormack says he is always amazed by the range and depth of skill and musicianship shown by local jazz artists."And it's not just an older clientele (that make up an audience)," Cormack adds. "They range from about 21 to 65 years old." They both praise the local arts community and are glad to be part of the downtown resurgence. "The whole strip (along Elgin Street) has been re-invented," says Cormack.
"It's kind of neat now -- the strip wasn't a nice place to be."We've made a lot of changes, with many more to come," he says.Cormack says they've cleaned up the place and have done extensive renovations."Now we're going to concentrate on (fixing up) the outside.
"Sudbury's changing, too," he says. "The demographics have changed. There's a lot of immigrants and the city's population has increased. They usually come from the big centres, so the downtown clientele has changed. There's a more mature crowd. We've planted the seeds," he says with a laugh.
Byard agrees. "We've made it our way, with the lighting and the trees. It's very stylish," she says. "We serve Montreal Smoked Meats, fresh Golden Grain (Bakery) bread, wraps, salads. It's like people coming in your house to visit." So, why jazz? "It brings a nice crowd in," says Byard.
"We like the intimacy of jazz, the sophistication," says Cormack. "There are so many emotions with jazz. It's not loud and booming, but (can be) very subtle and soothing." They say it's good for the city, good for jazz music and good for helping to promote culture in the community.
What do they think the future holds for jazz in Sudbury -- a city more well-known for its country, rock and folk roots? Byard leaps from her chair. "Watch," she says. "By next year, it's really going to flourish."