Regina’s local music scene soars

A photograph of a band playing on stage, taken from the left side of the standing section of the audience.
It’s time to let go and be free when listening to these artists! Slayte Prefontaine

A taste of folk, rock, and jazz for your listening pleasure 

by emma mcgill, contributor

I grew up in rural Manitoba with parents who helped me craft my great love for local music and taught me to recognize the joy in supporting small, blooming artists, listening closely to the sounds emerging right around me. We would attend the Winnipeg Folk Festival, house concerts, and local showcases as much as possible. Intimate venues were valued over booming arenas. 

When I moved to Regina for my first year of university in the late summer of 2022, by luck, I became immersed in the local music scene very quickly, and I am very grateful to say that I have had a hearty taste of the city’s sound. 

On February 2, Regina was right in the middle of its annual Frost Festival; a large series of pop-ups all over the city with opportunities for wintery fun. An experience that people fly in from all over for. That night’s music showcase in Victoria Square Park was my very first glimpse into the festival, and it was the perfect way to start.  

The city park’s atmosphere was given a pleasant small-town feel that we felt as soon as we walked into the warming tent, patiently waiting for the musicians to step up onto the little stage at the front. 

First to grace that stage was the ever-charming Marissa Burwell, a Regina local and proud master of all the work she’s put out over the past couple of years, including both a full-length album and an EP. Though her writing reflects so many universal woes, there is a deep foundation of life growing up in the prairies to be found in her music.  

Burwell was a lone star on the stage this evening, though just a few weeks prior she had filled The Exchange with the glorious sounds of herself accompanied by a full band. Alone, her musicianship is just as touching. Her ability to chuckle at her own crowdwork between songs only enhanced the endearment behind hits such as “Take a Load Off” and “You’re Not Trying Very Hard.”  

Accompanying the free hot chocolate being served, she warmed festival-goers with emotive lines like “Roles reversed that could’ve hurt” and “I’ll wait for the sun or the rain, either way.” 

Following Burwell was more Regina talent found in the version of the band Carmela, brought together for Frost. Lead vocalist Sydney Wright, dietitian by day and musician by night, was the sole member of the four-piece band who could make it to play the show. Graciously stepping in were Sam Stawarz on bass guitar, Tom Duffy on guitar, and Ross Bart on drums.  

Contrasting the previous set, Carmela filled the tent with billowing rock, showcasing songs including “Cut My Hair” and “Call Me By Her Name,” both songs which debuted in August. 

Ending with the longest set was Blu Beach Band, hailing from Langenburg and establishing themselves well in Regina. As always, the boys of Blu Beach bring a refreshing, welcoming energy to any venue they perform at and do so looking like they’re having the most fun out of anyone.  

This evening, they put that energy into performances of songs off their new album, No Guff, including “I Leave the Door Unlocked” and “City Love,” as well as songs from their previous album. The band is usually made up of members Carter Vosper, Eric Vosper, Remi Berthelet, and Riley Buchberger. With Eric Vosper journeying abroad at the time, Riley McLennan – more widely known as Lova Lamp in Regina’s music scene – stepped up to the plate.   

About an hour after the organizers of Frost thanked us all for attending, the setting changed but did not move far across the city. O’Hanlon’s Irish Pub is well known for its festive atmosphere as both a place to get together for drinks and appetizers with friends as well as a venue for live music.  

On this particular night, the whole place was drawn in by the electric jazz fusion flowing from the stage: the Regina Transit Authority (RTA), made up of Erik Mehlsen on guitar, Rob Lane on bass, Ethan Reoch on keys, and Cyprian Henry on the drums. The band released an EP, Standards, in 2020, and have put out collaborative works with the Saskatchewan collective People of the Sun.  

For part of the set, they brought out guests to shake things up: Kristian Vogel on saxophone, Joshua Stewart on trumpet, and Chané Boisvert on trombone. The true spirit of jazz was brought into the pub that night with the experimental nature of the band’s performance. 

Following the RTA, carrying their energy and more, came Ella Forrest and the Great Pines. Forrest released her debut EP in October of 2023, in the midst of having splashed elegantly onto the scene. Sharing members with local indie rock band Jake and the Kid, recipients of Sask Music’s album of the year award, the Great Pines become more comfortable and more improved with every performance they do.  

Becoming classics to their regular audience, the set includes tight, jazz-packed songs such as “Meet Cute,” “Butterflies,” and “Sunday Afternoon in May” which features vocals by drummer Theo Deiana. The remainder of the band is made up of Joe Roussell on guitar, Jakob Bjornson on bass, and Sam Stawarz on saxophone.  

“That show was so incredible. Afterwards the whole band was talking and we think it might have been our best show to date,” shared Forrest. “There was something about the energy that night, and how we all were purely just having a great time up there enjoying the music. Sometimes I think it pays off to not overthink and just feel the moment like that.” 

All in all, this series of performances represented well the talent here in this city, and the community that supports these musicians as they bring their creations to life and work to share those creations. If you are interested in seeing live music like this, I highly recommend following these bands and local venues on social media to stay up to date on upcoming shows and events. 


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