Retirees’ rock and roll band asked to move out of practice space at seniors’ centre

A band made up of self-described seniors said it feels like it’s being treated unfairly, after being asked to move out of its practice space it’s used the last few years.

The band called Derailed — made up of three retired CN workers and two other men in their 60s — had been practicing in the Transcona Retired Citizens Association’s centre on Whittier Avenue West, but was told in late spring to pack up its equipment.

“I don’t know if they’ve got something against rock and roll, or something against us, or what it is,” said John Ginsburg, who drums in Derailed, which has performed on occasion but mainly plays for fun.

Ginsburg’s bandmate, Dave Wronski, said the space was close to three of their homes and ideal for the group.

“It’s got a stage there, so it kind of gives the feeling of playing out,” he said. “But the main thing is, we were allowed to leave our drums set up, because the drums are a bit of a pain to take down and set up each time.”

Wronski said they initially started using the centre three or four years ago, when one band member joined the association and began volunteering and others followed.

The band said the decision to ask them to move their stuff out was made by the centre’s board, and their requests to meet to come up with a compromise were rejected.

Equipment an obstacle: board president

Yvonne Boisclair, president of the Transcona Retired Citizens Association, said they first agreed to start letting the band practice there when the club’s membership was smaller.

She said since then, the club has been put under increased pressure, including being told that in the future it may have to shoulder some of the costs for the building the city has been paying for.

As a result, she said they started making plans to make the space friendlier to other users, and the drums, mic stands and keyboard left behind by the band created an obstacle on the centre’s small stage.

“When we had to go up there to do something, we were always worried about tripping on chords,” she said.

Boisclair said while the band helped them move the equipment on request when the stage was needed, the instruments always ended up somewhere else in the centre and it was difficult to work around, frustrating others at the club.

She said the board decided the equipment would have to go, and gave the band the deadline to have it out.

Boisclair also said all but one of the band’s members had long since stopped volunteering at the centre.

Members of Derailed said they would have liked to have met with the board before it made its decision.

“We can basically accommodate anything they want,” said Ginsburg. “If they want us to practice in the middle of the night, or do whatever, take our equipment out of the centre every time we practiced, we could have accommodated anything they want.”

Boisclair said that offer may have come too late.

“I just can’t really see a solution to this, because now they’ve got a lot of hard feelings in the building,” she said.

Derailed also said if anyone knows of another facility they could practice in with room to leave a drum kit in, the band is all ears.