SURREY — Personalized clipboard in hand, Lisa Maure doesn’t have much time to chat. It’s a Thursday evening at Donegal’s Irish House, which means Maure is busy orchestrating the “jammers” who’ve come to play on the Surrey pub’s stage.
For one entire rockin’ night, it’s Maure’s job to keep a list of which musicians have signed up to perform, who plays what instrument, who needs a bass player, who needs a drummer, who needs a beer.
Around here, Maure is known as Lisa Freakrock, a company name she picked from a magazine story about Green Day’s “freakrock” drummer.
Over the past couple of years, she’s worked to build a loyal jam-night following at Donegal’s, among the few places in Surrey to stage live music on a regular basis. Jam nights are held there on Tuesday and Thursday, with bands featured on Friday and Saturday.
On a recent “Freakrock” Thursday, longtime Surrey resident Colin Hartridge took a seat near the bar and talked about why he so often comes to play at the place.
“I played for many, many years as a drummer in rock band (Sparkling Apple), and I still want to do that,” said Hartridge, a graphic artist and former Now employee.
“I put my name in early, at around 7 or 7:30, and I’ll have something to eat,” he added. “Usually Lisa already has my name on the list, because she knows I’ll be here.”
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By 8:30, live music pumped from the night’s “house” band, which includes singer-guitarist Ray Roper, bass player Kevin Swain and drummer Scotty McCargar.
A couple of ZZ Top songs later, a man named Mark took the drums, Vic grabbed the mic, and Roper and Swain remained on stage, for now. In the key of G, the band took a few moments to find a groove on “Route 66,” which soon motored.
Between songs, Swain pointed to his T-shirt.
“It’s the only bit of green I have in honour of St. Patrick’s Day tomorrow,” he revealed. “But look at this picture of Avril Lavigne. Doesn’t that look like Lisa? It totally does!”
Meanwhile, Freakrock wrote names on a page clipped to her board, and the good rockin’ continued with some of the 20-plus musicians in the house.
With three of them, Hartridge got his first chance to jump on stage for a version of The Tragically Hip’s “New Orleans is Sinking, followed by Tom Petty’s “Running Down a Dream” and Steppenwolf’s “Born to be Wild.”
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PICTURED: Jam-night house band members guitarist Ray Roper, drummer Scotty McCargar and bassist Kevin Swain, from left to right. (Photo: Tom Zillich)
With the house band taking a break, Maure had a moment to talk about the jam night.
“I’ve been here for almost two years, and I love it,” she said.
A budding drummer, the Calgary native went to other jam nights in the Vancouver area and saw how much fun everyone was having – almost everyone, that is.
“At one place I was told that nobody wanted to play with me, which was pretty sad,” she said. “So I got into my car and I said to myself, ‘I’m gonna start my own jam night.’”
And she did, first at a place in Burnaby and then at Donegal’s, with the backing of Daniel Cook, the pub’s general manager.
Swain said he appreciates playing in what he calls “one of the most active places in Surrey for live music” – and it’s true.
“Daniel has been amazing,” Swain raved, “because a lot of his peers in the business probably think it’s not smart to host live music four nights a week anymore, but he’s doing it, and going above and beyond. We all work together on this, and he’s a supporter, a pal, and keeps everything going. As musicians, we love it.”
Roper echoed Swain’s comments, and added his own about the jam-night environment.
“A lot of people tend to go from one jam night to the other, and it’s such a supportive, positive environment, just a place for people to play,” explained Roper, a founding member of the band Stonebolt, among many others.
“Sometimes these people don’t have another place to play or a band to play with, so this is perfect for them. We’re happy to be that band for a night, to start off.”
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On any given Thursday, pro-level musicians jam at the pub, sometimes with those who aren’t. Of late, Prism’s Al Harlow has hit the stage at Donegal’s, as has Frank Soda.
“I think it’s important to keep the quality of music up, because people do come here to listen,” Swain said. “Yes, some of these players haven’t been playing for a long time, or they bring in a new tune that nobody knows, so Lisa does a great job with the juggling act, keeping everyone happy. She has so much energy and is a great diplomat.”
In a couple of weeks, the Freakrock jam will hit Week #100, as counted on the events pages posted to Facebook.com/FreakrockEntertainment.
Maure has begun to put her “Freakrock Entertainment” logo on T-shirts (proudly worn by several of the jammers) and coffee mugs, all in an effort to spread word.
“It’s so much fun doing this,” she said. “I would love to expand it.”