The Committee will be playing at CK's Lounge on Jan. 27 as a farewell to bass player Merle Peters. (SHELLY HEINRICHS)
On Jan. 27, The Committee is bidding farewell to one of their original members at CK’s Lounge in Winkler.
The band has been together for around six years now. Chairman of The Committee Chris Enns (also a guitar player and vocalist) and bass player Merle Peters met through the music circle in the area, and after sitting down one day decided to go ahead and form a band. The band has added players from there to get to their current lineup.
Committee members come from all around the Pembina Valley region. Peters and guitarist Dennis Kehler are from Winkler. Co-chair and lead vocalist Ron Schellenberg lives in Rosenfeld. Enns and drummer Doug Friesen are from Altona.
The band plays guitar-driven classic rock and blues. Enns said they like playing southern rock, but will cover bands like Deep Purple, The Tragically Hip, ZZ Top and Lynyrd Skynyrd.
“We try to pick music that the band likes,” Peters said. “It is a committee after all. Everybody gets a say.”
“I’ve never played with a group of guys like this before,” he added. “We have a ton of fun at practices, there’s a lot of laughing going on. Nobody gets bent out of shape about mistakes, you just move on.”
Enns agrees that’s part of the reason the band has stayed together this long. “Nobody has an ego or anything, we’re just there to have fun,” he said. “Some people are better at [certain] things. You put it all together and it works.”
Their next concert will be the last for Peters, who is moving to Nicaragua with his wife.
He said he and his wife have travelled there four times now and fell in love with the area. A friend of Peters’, originally from Plum Coulee, owns a resort in the area and offered him a job.
The resort Peters will work for supports a foundation called Help Them Help Themselves, which has built a clinic and several schools in the region.
“They give a hand up to a lot of people in the area,” Peters said. “The idea is for someone that feels okay with moving away, you can stretch your retirement a little further.”
However, Peters said making the decision to move wasn’t an easy one.
“Quite frankly, giving up the band was a big part of the decision,” he said. “I know when I wrote the note to the band I was all choked up because the band has become my second family. We’ve been able to share things together and it was tough.”
“It’s therapy,” he added. “You could be having a really crappy day and be stressed out, but once you get together and start making music you come out of there feeling a whole lot better.”
“It’s not free, but it’s a therapy session that’s well worth driving out for,” Enns agreed. “It does cost something to be in a band and it’s definitely a commitment, but you get together and everyone contributes, and you get to the end of the song and you feel good. It’s like a cheap endorphin rush.”
Peters and Enns both anticipate that emotions could be running high at the concert.
Enns said the band is planning on finding a replacement for Peters and continuing to play in the future. “Merle is a very good bass player and to find somebody with the skills that he had who also has the same personality who’s going to fit into our group is not going to be easy,” he said. “He helped me start this group and he’s been my main supporter.”
“Just like any band or any family you have little issues sometimes and you need someone to talk to,” he added. “He’s always been the go-to person. He helps everybody see reason. It’s extremely hard to find somebody who’s level-headed and able to do something like that.”
“I’m the grandfather of the group,” Peters said. “It’s one thing to have the ability, but the personality to mesh with everybody else is extremely important in any band.”
Music starts at 8:30 on Jan. 27. Tickets are $10 at the door, or you can call CK’s Lounge ahead of time to reserve seating.