Outdoor music fest could give local groups chance to perform for headliners' fans, bands say

With two huge shows at the Magnetic Hill Concert Site drawing thousands of fans to Metro Moncton this summer, local musicians sure would like to be able to get in on the act.

The Associated Press
AC/DC, featuring guitarist Angus Young, headline a busy concert season this summer in the Maritimes.
"We should be able to capitalize on all of this. We've got a lot of people coming into town and it would be great to get everybody together at some kind of beer garden to showcase our local talent and sell some albums," Moncton singer Marc Little of The Watermen said yesterday.

The Watermen, a Moncton-based group that recently released a new album, has already entered separate competitions to become the opening act at outdoor shows by Kiss and Chickfoot in Halifax in July.
Music fans in Atlantic Canada and beyond will have a full slate of live shows to choose from this year. Besides the Bon Jovi concert on June 27 and the AC/DC event on Aug. 6, there will be outdoor shows by the Black Crowes in Fredericton, Blue Rodeo in Miramichi, Tim McGraw and Reba McEntire in Cavendish, P.E.I., KISS and Chickenfoot in Halifax. And yesterday, promoter Harold MacKay announced that he will bring former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney to Halifax for an outdoor show at the Commons on July 11.

Competitions for the local bands are being organized by radio stations and corporate sponsors as a way to promote Atlantic-based talent but, so far, there are no similar events associated with the Bon Jovi show June 27 and the AC/DC concert August 6. The two outdoor shows at the Magnetic Hill Concert Site are expected to draw thousands of fans from all over the Maritimes, Canada, parts of the United States and beyond.

"There isn't a local band in Moncton that wouldn't love to open the AC/DC show and be able to perform in front of all those people," says Don Levandier, a local musician who has organized several events featuring Metro Moncton performers.
In the days before Tim McGraw and Faith Hill played an outdoor show at Magnetic Hill in 2007, Main Street was closed off for the Country Jamboree. A stage was set up in the middle of the street and local groups competed for the chance to be the opening act for the big show on the hill. There were also picnics, wagon rides and other country music-themed events. It was called Moncton's first-ever Country Music Week, but the promotion was never repeated.

Daniel Allain, executive-director of Downtown Moncton Centre-Ville Inc., said his office has been approached by various groups looking to put on a downtown music festival, but never in conjunction with the big shows at Magnetic Hill.
He says people really enjoy the downtown street parties that have been held in association with the Atlanticade Motorcycle Festival and the Atlantic Nationals Automotive Extravaganza. Last year, thousands of people jammed Main Street for live performances by the Watermen and other groups during the motorcycle festival.

The Multicultural Association of Greater Moncton (MAGMA) will stage its annual multicultural festival at the Capitol Theatre.
This year, Allain said the Atlanticade street party will be held Saturday night at the same time as the Bon Jovi show. The motorcycle festival will be headquartered at the Tim Hortons 4-Ice Centre with live performances by local bands there. At some point, he'd like to see a "plug and play" venue in the downtown that could regularly feature live performances.
Downtown also promises to be busy during the weekend of the AC/DC concert on Aug. 6 with the Atlantic Dance Festival in town.
Dana Robertson, booking agent for the Paramount Lounge on Main Street, said they are cooking up something for the weekend of the AC/DC concert but aren't ready to release details just yet.

"If you're a fan of the local music scene or just discovering it, we'll have quite a show here on Saturday, Aug. 8 (two days after the AC/DC show)," Robertson said yesterday.

Beginning this Saturday, the downtown Manhattan club will host the "You Could Open for KISS" contest, which will feature four bands each Saturday night over four weeks competing for the big prize. The winner of each round will advance to the finals on June 13, along with one wild card band selected from those eliminated to compete for the grand prize.
The local winner will go to the Maritime finals for a chance to perform at Halifax Rocks 2009 on July 18 featuring KISS. The prize also includes $2,500 worth of time in a professional recording studio.

Marc Chouinard, manager of the Capitol Theatre, said a downtown festival featuring local bands is a good idea but it would take a lot of energy and money to put it together -- and that means volunteer organizers and a corporate sponsor willing to make it happen.
Ken Kelly, a veteran musician and music writer, says Metro Moncton's live music scene is on an upswing with many local performers writing and releasing new material.

"We've got an incredible lot of talent in this city, in every genre of music, from country rock to jazz fusion to heavy metal, indie bands, punk and bands that defy description," Kelly said.

Bands like the Watermen, the Divorcees and country rockers Neon Highway just released new CDs while classic rock group OldSchool will release an album of original material next month.

Chris Colepaugh is in Montreal preparing to go on tour with Roch Voisine. There are also bands like Motor League and Iron Giant in Moncton, the first recipients of the ECMA Loud Recording of the Year award.