by Laura Feeney

The end of the summer in Fredericton is sweetened by the anticipation of one of the finest Music Festivals on the East Coast – the Harvest Jazz and Blues. This is the largest annual music festival in Atlantic Canada, featuring an impressive 150 performances (35% of which feature New Brunswick’s own musicians) on 26 stages (including 4 completely free venues). 

I’ll be covering the Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival as only a Maritimer can – starting with this list of 10 things to see at this year’s festival. After much research, discussion, and debating, this is a peek at what my (anticipated) week will look like:

1. Joel Plaskett – After his electric Canada Day performance for an enthusiastic audience in Officer’s Square, Fredericton, I expect his opening night concert to be jam-packed with loyal fans. I know I wouldn’t miss it for the world!

2. Keb’ Mo’ – The appearance of this Grammy winning blues artist at the festival has my family raving – one of the top contemporary blues artists who’ll be kicking off the week in the largest venue, the Blues Tent.

3. Avett Brothers – Folk rock at it’s best! Fredericton is proud to host the Avett Brother’s first headlining show following the release of their newest album, The Carpenter. I’ve already had a listen – it’s an eclectic mix of folk, rock, country, and a hint of pop. I can’t wait to see them rocking the fiddle and banjo.

4. Tedeschi Trucks Band – Susan Tedeschi and husband Derek Trucks (formerly of the Allman Brothers) are Harvest favourites and everyone seems to be singing their praises. I’ll be checking out this 11-member blues-rock band at their headlining show on Friday.

5. The Barracks Galaxie Tent – I’m including this whole tent because it features many artists loved by Ride the Tempo fans, including Said the Whale, Wintersleep, and Paper Lions, as well other indie-rock fare. The fantastic line-up is paired with excellent prices (nightly shows range from 15-22$, with student discounts available), which makes this tent a must-see.

6. Galaxie Rising Star Contest – The Galaxie tent will be home to up-and-coming New Brunswick talent Friday afternoon, as 6 bands go head-to-head to compete for the title of Galaxie Rising Star and the chance to open for Said the Whale and Wintersleep on Saturday night. This year’s finalists include Fredericton’s Oh No, Theodore! and Redwood Fields, Saint John’s Penny Blacks, St. Andrews’ Kendra Gale Band, and Moncton’s Shaun LeBlanc and The Motorleague. Click here for more information about the contest and the opportunity to pre-vote for the winner.

7. Afterburners – These late night parties give Blues fans the chance to dance the night away at the Blues Tent and Hoodoo House. Featuring encores from some of the Harvest’s favourites, these are sure to be a blast.

8. Buskers at the new busker central – Buskers aren’t a normal part of East Coast life, so naturally I’m excited to check them out at the Harvest. There are 25 buskers lined up, including fire eaters, stilt walkers, and a 14-year-old unicycle prodigy – definitely a sight to take in!

9. Garrison District Ale House Stage – This is one of my favourite downtown eateries because of it’s relaxing atmosphere, excellent selection of beer, and delicious burgers – but they also have a great line-up during the Harvest. Featuring John Campelljohn (Friday 4-6), Joe Murphy and the Water Street Blues Band (8pm Thurs, Fri, and Sat), and Marquise Know (Sat 3-5). The perfect spot to enjoy a Picaroons Ale with some great live music.

10. Officers’ Square Stage – An entirely free, all-ages venue featuring an extended Friday afternoon show starting at noon. Artists including Ross Neilson, Donna Grantis, Shrimp Daddy, Joe Murphy, and the highly-anticipated Record Company will be gracing this stage. Also, there will be a Congo Square event for the kiddos on Saturday at 11 featuring Scotty & the Stars, Marquise Knox, and Roddie Romero & the Hub City All-Stars. This event features an instrument petting zoo and interactive workshops – sounds like a great time for the whole family!

As expected, I’ve only just scratched the surface of what this year’s festival has to offer! There really is something for everyone: jazz and blues legends, upcoming indie and folk rockers, workshops, and activities for the kids. I hope to capture the magic of this festival in words – and to introduce you to a lot of great Maritime talent.

Whoa and I didn’t even get into the food offerings… :)