Focus on business: YK Rocks

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The man behind YK Rocks, the newest concert promotion company in town, is looking to invigorate the music scene by hosting open jam nights and running a concert series at the Black Knight Pub.

Patrick Jacobson, life-long musician and founder of YK Rocks, came to Yellowknife a year ago from Whitehorse for a job. When he started getting involved in town, he said the music scene wasn’t exactly what he was expecting.

“After moving here I expected a similar scene as Whitehorse and it really was not that,” said Jacobson. “There are the regular bands set up in town, but I was looking for more original music.”

Jacobson began hosting a jam night at the now defunct Twist and Shout after performer Digawolf handed him the responsibility. He oversaw the nights until Twist and Shout eventually closed then he began developing a different idea.

He heard that Terry Hartwright at the Black Knight was looking to host an open mic on Thursdays, a common day for open mics and jam nights in town and Jacobson pitched a concept that would offer more to bands.

“Generally, the trouble with jam nights is where can you go from there?” Jacobson said. “Most venues in town aren’t hiring original bands for showcases, so bands are generally left to put on their own shows or stay at that jam night level.”

Layne Rybchinski, left, and Dean Eskich, who co-hosts the Jam Knight event, jam with Brian Weadick at a the Top Knight. Brett McGarry/ NNSL photo

With this problem in mind, he pitched the idea of the Jam Knight and the YK Rocks The Top Knight Concert Series. Bands could perform at the Jam Knight event from which they could then be picked up to open for artists coming to town for the concert series.

The first show run by YK Rocks will feature West Coast indie rock trio Grapes of Wrath on April 6.

“Having the chance to open for these big-ticket bands will really entice local bands and add some clout to the event,” Jacobson said.

Bringing quality original music to Yellowknife at an affordable price is a tenet of what YK Rocks will be about in its first year. Jacobson said it’s ridiculous to think that someone should have to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars to fly south to see a band.

“I started looking into bringing bands out here and keep the price low enough so that anyone who wants to go, can go,” Jacobson said.

And Jacobson sees plenty of incentive for established bands to come up and play Yellowknife, which has a certain mystique.

“I’ve played just about everywhere in Canada, except Nunavut and New Brunswick, and there’s that desire for musicians to get that ‘passport stamp’ or bragging rights,” Jacobson said. “You want to be able to say you played every place in Canada.”

When an artist says yes, YK Rocks gets to work accommodating them, preparing for airfare and booking lodgings.

The company is also exploring the idea of bringing larger artists in for solo acoustic sets. But Jacobson said he’s open to a wide variety of genres.

“I don’t want to get too niche with it,” he said. “I want to do some soul shows, some acoustic shows, maybe hip-hop. Despite being named YK Rocks, this won’t exclusively be rock shows.”

Jacobson remained tight lipped on other potential artists coming to town as a part of the series, but said there will hopefully be a handful this year.

“Our Jam Knight will be every Thursday upstairs and we’ll be doing between four and six concerts this year. We’re keeping our ears to the ground for more opportunities but we’re focusing on this for now,” he said.

Overall, Jacobson said he wants to be in on the ground floor of an evolving local music scene and bringing quality music to town.

“It’s giving people something to do, it’s helping local artists, it’s also establishing us as a hub for touring bands,” Jacobson said. “We all just really love music and we want to see more of here in Yellowknife.”

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