AlpenRock House appoints interim GM Bands cancelled to cut costs By Paul Andrew A day of Remembrance on Nov. 11 will be remembered for different reasons by Whistler when the newest, biggest and perhaps hardest to fill live venue in Whistler entered a new stage in its development. Long time local Dave Branigan, who was hired six months ago to handle almost all aspects of the 40,000 square foot underground entertainment complex, parted company with AlpenRock House. Branigan had previously managed The Longhorn Saloon, working as a DJ and booking live entertainment. He has also managed clubs in Vancouver. Gordon Barker, who will manage the venue below the Holiday Inn until someone can be found to take on the entertainment, said Branigan resigned because of a different vision for AlpenRock’s 415-seat nightclub. "I’m the vice-president of operations for AlpenRock House Canada," Barker said Friday. "I won’t be the full-time manager. But for now what we’ll do is continue what Dave was doing, and that’s bring in the top-ticket touring bands." Barker said his experience in the nightclub industry goes back some 28 years, and that he has started or helped start 55 nightclubs the world over. "If you look around Whistler, it’s obvious to me that some of the DJs are playing music that is two years behind the times. I wouldn’t touch any of that stuff. I have a DJ at Ministry Ministry, my club in Spain, who will come in here soon and you’ll know what I mean." But at the moment, DJs are the last thing on Barker’s mind. Two bands have been cancelled at the club during the second-half of November in order to make room for the expensive week of Nov. 23-26 that will have AlpenRock payout at least $25,000 for Wide Mouth Mason on the Wednesday, and Maxi Priest on the Friday — and that does not include the cost of hypnotist Anthony Cools on the Tuesday of that week. Bands or DJs cancelled during the month of November are Jazzberry Ram, Q and Tricky Woo. Cools has been reduced to two shows instead of four, and Wunderbread will play one date in December rather than two less than 48 hours apart. Michael Wilkins, president of AlpenRock House International and based in Toronto, said the corporation is now looking for someone who is used to filling a large, internationally flavoured venue during the high season in Whistler, and says the first season is very important to make a good impression. "Dave’s a great guy but we need somebody who has experience with a large place like this," Wilkins said Nov. 12, a day after Branigan left. "We came to a mutual understanding that Dave wasn’t the guy for the job. During the high season, we want something going on there every night and we want to have it filled. We need somebody who is highly qualified and can set exceptionally high standards of entertainment... to the highest levels." Reached at his home in Whistler Monday, Branigan said he thought it was better not to comment on Wilkins and Barker’s statements, but did say he was glad for the opportunity to work at a big ticket venue. Less than a month ago, Branigan secured an informal partnership with House of Blues Canada for a few of the Commodore Ballroom gigs, including Maxi Priest. "They brought me in because I know the Whistler market and I know entertainment," Branigan said. "I’ve got nothing negative to say about AlpenRock as a venue. I mean, it’s a wonderful place to see a live band. "We had a difference of opinion on the entertainment programming and perhaps I was a bit over aggressive in positioning AlpenRock as a live entertainment venue through the ski season," Branigan added. "It was definitely an interesting six months."