LAURA CONNING, CREATOR OF ROUTE 26
This popular website promoting live music events around southern Georgian Bay is the invention of entrepreneur and musician Laura Conning. Created in 2016, Route26.ca is a calendar-based live music site listing about 100 local live music events each month in our area as well as blogs from Laura regarding the musicians, events and music workshops.
Hugely popular with musicians, bands, and venue owners, the site was forced to shut down in January due to a lack of funding required to support its operation, a disappointment to its over 2000 social media followers across Southern Ontario, multiple bands, and local venues.
The site’s creator, Laura Conning holds a BA in Popular Music Studies and a Master of Arts in Popular Music & Culture from the University of Western Ontario. Her academic studies and music background in writing and performing give her a great position to identify and promote fantastic local live music.
When you want to know where there’s great quality live music, you can just check out Route26.ca. Laura’s efforts with the site have caught the attention of Simcoe Region as well as the Economic Development office of the Town of Collingwood and the Department of Art and Culture.
Martin Rydlo–Director of Marketing and Business Development for the Town of Collingwood–states, "Collingwood and South Georgian Bay is a growing hub for live and original music. The range of venues to listen to local musicians and special guests, eager to come here to enjoy Ontario's 4-season playground, ranges from outdoor areas with spectacular vistas to seemingly hidden venues only the locals seem to know about. Route 26 offers people the chance to get an immersive look into the bustling music scene here, with a multitude of great performances every week now easily accessible.”
Steve Vipond–owner of Collingwood’s Crow Bar & Variety and Thornbury’s Bruce Wine Bar, as well as an advocate for the arts and musical gatekeeper for the area in his own right–says, “Route 26 is a fantastic resource for what’s happening musically in our community. Fantastic artist interviews to full music schedules. Just what we need in the hood to keep us up to date on the areas burgeoning music scene. Great to have you back Laura!”
A Barrie and Simcoe County Regional Music Strategy survey from Spring 2018 identified Route 26 as a priority to supporting, growing, and marketing the region’s music scene.
The report states, “We consistently heard about Route 26—across the survey, consultations and 1-on-1 interviews—as a model example of how to promote local shows and create content that showcases local artists in a professional light,” and suggests that Route 26 be leveraged as a central source to stay abreast of all musical happenings in the area, as well as to learn more about our artists.
Starting in June, Route26.ca will turn the switch back on! It will be presented by Clerkson’s Home Store in Collingwood, who will fund the operation of the site and help to promote downtown events.
Route 26 will be kicking things back off with a Q&A with Carole Pope (of Rough Trade fame), conducted by Laura Conning. Pope will be at Crow Bar & Variety on June 25 and 26. This Q&A is now live.
So, when someone asks, “Who’s playing in the area this weekend?” – just check out Route26.ca.