Happy Hour Again: Calgary artists Nico and Jeff celebrate one year of making music and memories at home

On April 10, 2020, Calgary’s fab music staples Jeff Kushner (Unsightly, The Beauty Myth, Beagle Ranch) and Nico Brennan (Dino Martinis, B4 Peace) were testing a rented microphone and jumped onto Facebook to try it out. Their time online happened to coincide with happy hour a couple of weeks after the Alberta government announced health measures that closed down businesses and large gatherings. 

People were freaked out, isolated and bored until the pair brought them together, taking requests via Facebook and playing songs like Paul Simon’s 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover, ABBA’s Does Your Mother Know and Prince’s Purple Rain while lightning-scrolling for chords and lyrics. 

They even tried out requests they’d never played, all in the spirit of joy, fun and generosity (they’ve donated money for every request during some shows to Angel’s Café, and urged people to pick up food from music venues to help keep them afloat).

Since then, they’ve been a beacon for housebound music lovers, presenting Happy Hour @ Home every week except when Brennan’s dad passed away suddenly in February, even performing on Christmas Day. They’ve gone live from Mikey’s Juke Joint, their hotel room in Canmore, a trendy shop in Saskatoon, backyard barbeques and friends’ homes, and are routinely viewed in Thailand, Mexico, Scotland and Ireland.

Among the rotating 50 to 150 viewers per episode have been Mayor Nenshi (who went to the same school as Brennan), noted musicians Case Caulfield (Blastfinger, Big Bang Theory), members of The Lovebullies, and Ruth Purves-Smith.

Nico and Jeff will celebrate the first anniversary of Happy Hour @ Home April 9 by previewing a new song, their first co-write, which they plan to record and release at a later date. TheSCENE caught up with the dreamy duo to learn about their likes and lives.

Most requested: Brennan’s original Safe Way Home, The Hollies’ The Air that I Breathe, John Prine’s In Spite of Ourselves, Sonny & Cher’s I Got You Babe, and Death Cab for Cutie’s I Will Follow You Into the Dark

Place to have ice cream: Luke’s Drug Mart

Zodiac:  Jeff – Gemini; Nico – Pisces

Colour: Jeff – purple; Nico – aqua blue

Movie: Jeff – The Empire Strikes Back; Nico – The Princess Bride

Vacation: Jeff – Cinque Terre, Italy; Nico – anywhere in Mexico

Animal: Jeff – dog; Nico – octopus

Season: Jeff – spring; Nico – autumn

Concert: Jeff – Bowie in ’97; Nico – Bebel Gilberto

Superhero: Jeff – Spider-Man; Nico – Wonder Woman

Fave songs to play: Jeff – Song for Alberta (Brennan), Here Comes the Rain Again (Eurythmics); Nico – Across the Universe (The Beatles), Cinnamon Girl (Neil Young)

Happy Hour Drink: Big Rock Rose Cider

You can catch Happy Hour @ Home here

or visit their site here

Mary-Lynn Wardle is a Bragg Creek writer.