This is The End of Shaun Antler’s efforts to document Sault Ste. Marie’s music history.
What started as a small-scale attempt to get names of members of groups through the years grew into a two-year project that now stands at 1,722 entries.
Antler’s ready to drop the curtain and hit the lights at month’s end.
“It just keeps growing and getting bigger and bigger and bigger and I’ve got to put an end to it,” she told The Sault Star. “This is your last chance to get any information in.”
Anyone with information about bands that have been part of the Sault’s music scene can reach Antler at email@example.com.
The stage director of Rotaryfest’s Stage 1 has compiled a whole range of types of acts, including opera, country, electronic, musical theatre, grunge, doo-wop, death metal and jazz.
“Every single genre you can think of,” Antler told The Sault Star. “It’s quite diverse.”
More recent additions to her collection include 1940s outfits such as Mino and His Merry Men and George Nesom and The Personality Boys. Antler’s also been handed names of groups, Deja Vu, The Extracts, Gambler, Heaven’s Devils and The Jesters, but no listing of group personnel.
She’s focused now on “tidying up loose ends,” such as finding out what instruments band members played.
Production help Antler could use now is a name for her research effort that will be donated to Sault Ste. Marie Museum. She’s been calling her work The Music Project.
“But it deserves a better name,” said Antler.
She’s been putting in five to six hours a day for the last couple of weeks to put her band list to bed. Other projects beckon for the rest of 2021.
“I want to make sure that I get this done,” said Antler.
Submissions that come in after Jan. 31 “will have to be added at a later date.”
Website developer Bill Cowen is working with Antler to take the information she’s gathered and share it through an online directory.
That site is expected to go live in March. An address is still to be determined.
Cowen helped develop a similar online resource, www.artsvictoria.ca, more than a decade ago when he lived in Victoria, B.C.That site, highlighting visual artists, musicians and dancers is still active.
“It’s been a successful endeavour,” he said.
He was an Arts Council of Sault Ste. Marie board member in the late 1990s. The arts umbrella organization produced an annual paper directory of artists.
“I witnessed their struggles to keep that up-to-date,” said Cowen.
What he’s creating for Antler lets artists update their information themselves without contacting a site administrator.
“We give the resource back to the artist,” said Cowen. “It dramatically increases the up-to-dateness of the resource and it keeps it going with much less administration. The burden of the organization is taken away from the organization that’s developing the resource.”
Cowen is also part of Antler’s two-year project. He was a member of dance/pop outfit Four Really Nice Guys. Cowen also made a one-show appearance with Skeleton Closet.
“We’ll see where it goes,” he said of the interactive directory. “There’s a lot for it to develop into. In other cities when left to the community, the community sort of develops itself because the musicians recognize that it’s a place where they can also be a part of it.”
Cowen also wants what he’s helping create to have a long shelf life.
“Mostly so no-one has to aggregate the data again but also, so that all the information can be found in one place for anyone who comes looking for it, now as well as in the future,” he said. “What partnerships and collaborations will be required to keep it going is difficult to say, however I believe there is the will and opportunity to see such a digital archive establish itself locally, both as a current resource for the area, as well as an historical archive moving forward.”
Antler has done “a hell of a job,” said the secretary and treasurer of Sault Ste. Marie Musicians’ Association.
“It’s a task that is beyond anybody’s imagination because you think you know everybody in the business,” said Paul Leclair. “Well, you don’t.”
He helped Antler with her efforts. Leclair focused his research mostly on bands active from 1960 to 1980.
Recent finds he shared with Antler are The Country Kings featuring John McClanaghan, Frank Boyer, Gary Mason and Ken Findlay circa 1968. Leclair also shared a tip about a current outfit, Dynowaves.
Museum visitors “would be most impressed” with its music display. Antler’s contribution will add to “a great trip down memory lane,” said Leclair.
“I commend her for sticking to it because it is quite daunting to have to put together,” he said.
On Twitter: @Saultreporter