Local punk band 1971 are saying farewell to fans at their EP release and final concert on Dec. 23. The group decided to disband after the sudden death of their bassist Cameron Cranston in the winter of 2016.
“It’s been a pretty tough year. But we had those songs from the demo and we wanted to release them, get them out there,” drummer Jory Strachan said. “So we decided a couple months after he passed away, maybe even a few weeks, that we should do it.”
The band has been performing in southern Ontario and touring regularly since they formed in 2011, with some small breaks between writing and touring. They quickly found a scene in Ontario and Quebec.
“We would tour almost more than we would play in Winnipeg, just because there was more stuff in southern Ontario that fit what we were doing, and Quebec,” Strachan said.
1971’s legacy has made waves in communities all over Canada. Robert Boissoneau, a fan of the band, discovered 1971 when he was 14 and living in Sioux Narrows just outside of Kenora.
“It was the first kind of punk rock show I went to,” Boissoneau said. “To me it was really [a] revolution. It opened a whole new scene to me. Like a young angsty kid, and these guys just spoke the words that I was thinking.”
Boissoneau formed a band of his own after attending a 1971 show at the Park Theatre in Winnipeg.
“It was really different, because I was used to seeing these guys play in a little community club or in a bar tucked away in one corner,” Boissoneau said. “It was not strange, but really uplifting and new to see them up there on a stage with an actual stage and a sound set up and people moshing in front of them.”
Boissoneau is now 18 and attending college in Thunder Bay, and plans to attend the farewell show in Kenora.
Tanner Neil, the second guitarist for 1971, was a friend of Cranston’s since childhood. Neil currently lives in Vancouver, but will be returning to Winnipeg for the farewell concert.
“We’re doing a Kenora show as well and his family will be there and that’ll be nice too,” Neil said.
Neil said he is looking forward to the final shows as closure. The first will take place at The Good Will Social Club on Dec. 23 in Winnipeg, and the second at the Kenora Curling Club on Dec. 29 in Kenora.
Strachan said each show will feature a number of different bassists filling in for Cranston.
“The idea behind the shows is we’re going to have something like 12, for the Winnipeg show, different people come up on stage with us, not at the same time,” Strachan said. “And they’re going to fill in on bass for different songs, and a couple other friends are going to sing a song.”
Boissoneau thinks the farewell will “make things seem like they’re not as bad,” but is still saddened by the loss.
“These three guys kind of opened a whole new thing to me, and they really inspired me,” Boissoneau said. “And they didn’t even have to be behind their instruments to do it, these were just three really great guys. Just one of them being gone so abruptly, I don’t know. It kind of just brought that world to a screeching halt.”