A camera films a Daniel James’ Brass Camel concert at the Hubcast studio, in the Port Kells area of Surrey, on April 23. (Photo: Tom Zillich)


High-tech Hubcast studio in rural Surrey brings intimate concerts to converted barn

Filmed performances feature Daniel James’ Brass Camel and others on TV/internet series

“Look for a black gate with two rows of short cedar trees leading up to it,” the event invitation said.

“You’ll see a blue/black ‘H’ on the left side of the gate,” according to the directions.

“You’ll travel down a long driveway and see a house on your right.”

There, on rural 188th Street in the Port Kells area of Surrey, Daniel James’ Brass Camel was set to rock a former barn that has been converted into a intimate concert venue with high-tech offerings.

It’s called Hubcast Studios, home to Hubcast Media Productions, touted as “a global IP-based broadcast and video production company” at hubcastmedia.com.

In the darkened control room, monitors and equipment buzzed with images and sound on a recent Tuesday night, when Surrey’s one-time “Rock and Roll Kid,” guitarist/singer Danny Sveinson, and his current prog-funk band recorded an hour-long set in front of audience of around 40 people.

The concert was filmed for broadcast later this month on the ONSTAGE show, on the Surrey-based JoyTV network – Saturdays at midnight, Pacific time – and also at onstagelive.tv, an online portal built to showcase “world-class musicians who call Canada home.”

ONSTAGE, now in its second season, is put together by Hubcast executive producer Peter Young and host Fiona Forbes. So far, the featured musicians have included Jim Byrnes, Jill Barber, Star Captains, Tiller’s Folly, Star Captains and Coco Jafro, among others.

“We’re getting a lot bands calling us now, as we’re getting discovered,” Young said.

“Word has spread in the music industry here, mostly by word of mouth,” Forbes added. “We’ll have someone come watch the show, like Daniel, to watch somebody else perform, and they’ll say, ‘Hey, I want to do that, too.’”

For $5, people can stream and download the concerts from the ONSTAGE website.

“Sixty per cent of that goes to the artist,” Young explained. “It’s a revenue for them and also a platform, and we encourage them to share and use it as kind of a footprint for an EPK, things like that.

“There’s no charge to come here,” he added, “because we have some great partners and sponsors, including our main one, Chambers Plan, and we’re looking for more right now.”

“So we can keep supporting Canadian independent music,” Forbes added, without missing a beat.

A couple years ago, Young said the barn was supposed to serve as storage space for a production coach, for mobile recording.

”We took over the property here and partnered with the gentleman who owns the land,” Young recalled. “We have a coach where all the equipment fit into it. So this was going to be a space to store it and keep it dry, it turned into this.

“As things progressed, the coach has been retired and it’s for sale,” he added with a laugh. “We moved everything inside.”

In addition to ONSTAGE, Hubcast produces content that has been sent to the studio from around the world, said Young, who has more than 30 years of experience in the entertainment industry, as a live-broadcast and studio sound engineer.

“This summer, the big thing is we are actually producing the (Vancouver) Canadians baseball games, six games per season,” he revealed. “All the cameras (feeds) will come from Nat Bailey Stadium back into this control room and we’ll produce it all in this space, live. So we do sports, entertainment, some education.”

For broadcaster Forbes, the Hubcast studio is located just a few miles from where she grew up, in Cloverdale.

“The first time Peter gave me the address to come down here.…” she said with a laugh. “As much as I grew up around here, I had no idea, right. There’s this long driveway, cows everywhere, and then I walked into the control room and this state-of-the-art thing, the kind of facility that, for TV people is, like, ‘Wow, we can do stuff!’… It’s like kids in a candy store.”

• RELATED STORY: Surrey’s ‘Rock and Roll Kid’ is all grown up, and he’s even more awesome on guitar.

The show is also a bit of a “blast from the past” for Forbes, who remembers interviewing the Guildford-raised Sveinson when he was just 11 or 12 years old, on her Urban Rush talk show at the time.

“A lot of the people coming through are familiar to me, people I know,” she said. “And with this, it’s nice to have a live-concert situation to show what they do, not just the one song, in and out. They can showcase themselves here.”

Invitations for ONSTAGE concerts are sent by the featured musician and linked back to the show’s website, where people can sign up and attend for free, with refreshments and goodies for all. The peformances are held pretty much every week – three times monthly, give or take. The latest one, on Wednesday night (May 1), showcased Bruce Coughlan and a three-piece band playing “original Retro-esque Roots, Rhythm & Blues music,” as described on the invitation.

“In our first season, we travelled around to different venues around town, and now we’re here for the second season,” Young noted. “And for our third season we’ll be all from the backyard here, we’ll do it outside, completely outdoors.”

In the works is something called Hubfest, with performances by 12 bands over three days.

“Coachella with cows instead of a ferris wheel,” Forbes said with a giggle. “Imagine the Instagram photos.”

In Rwanda, a friend of Young’s wants to launch ONSTAGE Africa, with cameras feeding sound and images back to the studio in Port Kells using a VPN network.

”With this, there’s lots of growth that can happen, and for us right now the key is getting partnerships and sponsors, people who want to get behind independent music,” he said. “There’s so much talent here in B.C., including these guys tonight, and here’s a way to showcase all that. Grants are great, those traditional routes, but they take so much effort, and time, and we’re trying to build it grassroots, and the plan is to have it grow and grow and grow, and get even better distribution.”


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