Performers cancel at Needle Vinyl Tavern over sexual harassment allegations

Acts are cancelling performances at a popular live-music venue over allegations of sexual harassment from a former employee.

The Needle Vinyl Tavern on Jasper Avenue has asked the Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton and the YWCA to review its policies and training, one of the owners, Robert Campbell, said Monday in an emailed statement.

“The Needle Vinyl Tavern has absolutely zero tolerance for any behaviour or actions by staff or patrons that impacts the positive environment we have worked so hard to cultivate,” the statement said.

“Our management team and ownership are taking this situation very seriously, and we are taking immediate steps to ensure that The Needle is a safe environment for staff, artists and patrons.”

In a Facebook post Monday, Brittany Lyne Rudyck, who is listed as the venue’s social media manager, said she quit Friday because she was sexually harassed on the job in March. She said the person who harassed her was “disrespectful” to several staff that night.

Jeremy Taggart and Jonathan Torrens, who were to host their Taggart and Torrens Podcast at the Needle on Monday, instead relocated to a south-side venue.

“We are heartbroken to hear about the allegations of mistreatment of the staff at The Needle Vinyl Tavern in Edmonton,” said a post on their Twitter account. “We cannot in good conscience perform there tonight.”

Taggart is a former drummer for the band Our Lady Peace, while Torrens is an actor and TV personality whose credits include Street Cents and Trailer Park Boys. The duo is on a cross-country promotional tour.

The Edmonton band Brunch Club said in a Facebook post it will play its upcoming gig Nov. 24 at the Needle, but donate any proceeds to the Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton and not book further shows there.

The Red Cannons, a band from Spruce Grove that was to play the Needle on Dec. 1, said in a Facebook post that it too will cancel. The band was nominated for Group of the Year and Rock Recording of the Year at the 2014 and 2015 Edmonton Music Awards.

The biweekly Edmonton music podcast Cups N Cakes, which covers the Canadian indie scene with an emphasis on the western provinces, said Monday in a Facebook post: “Cups N Cakes will no longer support The Needle in any way, shape or form. Our hearts go out to anyone affected by this. Stay strong and know that Edmonton’s music community stands beside you.” 

The Needle hosted a third anniversary party for the podcast in May.

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