Unplugged… again

By Lawrence Bailey

Stragglers and latecomers alike were forced to sit all by their lonesome as Unplugged 3 packed into the Boris Roubakine recital hall.

The third instalment of the Busking for Smiles acoustic music series was a smashing success as a handful of local singer/songwriters played to an appreciative packed house.

The brainchild of BFS executive Lance Farkas, the Unplugged Series is a forum for the exposure and celebration of student musicians.

"I thought there was an unfilled niche," explains Farkas, a fine musician in his own right. "There was an appreciation of student talent, but there wasn’t any venue or means to promote that or enhance it."

Originally an idea bantied about by Farkas and fellow BFSers, the series has been a smashing success since its inception, leaving audiences happy and performers beaming.

"For a lot of people, Unplugged was their first show. It’s nice to be able to take that first step with such a receptive audience," smiles a quiet Farkas. "It really brought a tear to my eye. Every time people clapped you could hear the amount of positive energy in the room. It was overwhelming. It’s like a family."

One of Unplugged’s key elements of is the presentation of the music. Getting shows in venues other than smoky bars or coffee shops is difficult for any act-acoustic acts in particular. After attending show upon show in that kind of environment, Farkas says he just saw an opportunity.

"I wanted it to be a lot like the Engineered Air Theatre-a sit-down venue where you can hear the music and experience the emotion," Farkas explains, pointing out
the value of such an event. "One of the biggest things is this is an untapped resource. Unplugged has helped a lot of musicians with networking and meeting other performers."

Fostering a certain togetherness between student performers and artists is definitely a key aspect of Unplugged and was among the chief motivators for Farkas when he was starting it up.

"It’s not going to change the world, but it’s a little step in the right direction," he confides modestly. "It helps make the campus arts community a little more vibrant."

The planning and execution of the three concerts has been an altruistic labour of love for the impending graduate, but there aren’t any guarantees it will continue.

"It’s yet to be determined [if there will be an Unplugged 4]," Farkas concedes. "Busking for Smiles is looking for people who are willing to assume [my] role and keep the momentum going."

And what are the rewards of such an arduous and time-consuming commitment?

"I’ve had people come up to me and tell me that the Unplugged series had inspired them to pick up a guitar or learn to play piano," Farkas recounts nostalgically. "That is a really rewarding feeling. To know that while it didn’t change the world, it changed something."

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