By LINDSAY COSTELLO
You don't have to go far to have a good time.
Local promoters are bringing everything from local bands to some of Canada's hottest acts to stages across the region, proving that one doesn't need to travel to get an entertainment fix.
Matt Bresee, a local promoter, says he feels Niagara has a "very strong music scene."
He adds there are a "wide variety of events that range in size and scope," meaning there is "something for everybody."
He was involved in event promotion while living in Guelph, Ont., and continued with the hobby when he made the move to St. Catharines to attend Brock University three years ago.
Although he had help, he says it was difficult to get his foot in the door.
He began with small venues and says the turning point came when he partnered with fellow Niagara promoter Pat Murphy, who has since relocated to Toronto.
He says together they were able to cover more bases and create a "stronger music scene."
Bresee considers himself a big music fan. "Music is pretty important to me," he says. "It dominates many aspects of my life."
In addition to promoting concerts, he also runs other events such as comedy and club nights.
There isn't a specific moment or show that Bresee admits is his favourite. Instead, he enjoys "seeing a positive interaction between an audience and a performer."
He says seeing the audience appreciate what a performer does is a "feel-good thing."
To aid in promotion, Bresee advertises through the Internet and on Facebook in addition to putting up posters and handing out promotional materials.
He plans to continue to bring talent to the area and aid in the local scene's growth.
While he says he is content with the work he has been doing, he "wants nothing more than to see it grow even further."
Jason Di Leo, another promoter from St. Catharines who runs events under the name Gonz Productions, has also been working to build the local music scene and has brought big-name artists to Niagara.
He has been promoting music for the past five years and is responsible for organizing concerts featuring well-known acts such as Alexisonfire and Marianas Trench.
Di Leo says it took about three years to grow his business and reach different and larger venues.
He says his initial audiences were between 16 and 18 years old, but the demographic depended on the show. He adds it is as if he has seen the audience members grow older, but because everyone changes over time, it can be hard to connect with the same group that he connected with in the beginning.
Like Bresee, Di Leo began promoting local acts at small venues. While he remains involved with local acts, he has been able to reach out to larger acts that have gained national attention.
With the introduction of larger venues, he has seen an increased number of attendees in recent years.
In the past he used a variety of venues, such as The Moose and Goose in Thorold and the Port Mansion in St. Catharines, but now focuses mainly on St. Catharines venues the Red Hot Chilli Pepper, Barracuda Pretty and the CAW Hall.
He says working with local artists can be "more fun" than working with larger acts because of the excitement that up-and-coming performers exude, but he gets excited for larger shows because there is a bigger reward.
He adds that nothing makes him happier than seeing a big crowd.
Di Leo says attending concerts in the Niagara region eliminates the need for audiences to travel to larger cities and spend money on higher-priced tickets and transportation. "Why go there when we can do it here?"
For more information on events happening in the Niagara region, visit www.niagaramusicscene.com.
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