The music plays on for the Central Music Festival Society, even though the outdoor festival won’t be returning — for now.
Edmonton band Boogie Patrol is anticipated to get 100 or more Central Albertans dancing when it performs Feb. 3 at the Elks Lodge in Red Deer. The Edmonton blues/soul funk group is the latest in a string of local, regional and international acts that Central Music Festival Society has been bringing to the city since forming in 2004.
President Mike Bradford said CMF’s original intent was to get an outdoor summer music festival going near Red Deer. This dream was realized from 2007-2012, when the Central Music Festival was held at a rural amphitheatre just outside city limits.
Despite big acts including The Trews, Blackie and the Rodeo Kings and Ian Tyson, the festival never found a large enough audience. Bradford hopes to bring the festival back in future, as the economy improves and city grows.
But when the outdoor event was put on indefinite hiatus in 2013, CMF owed a lot of money that it’s been slowly paying back from proceeds from a series of indoor Elks Lodge shows that have been running almost monthly.
Boogie Patrol will be followed by Tri-Continental (with Bill Bourne, Lester Quitzau and Madagascar Slim) on March 3, and “kitchen party” band Gordie MacKeeman and his Rhythm Boys on April 13.
Music’s been part of Bradford’s life ever since he was a boy and his dad worked in radio in the 1940s and ’50s. Growing up near New York City meant catching acts like Judy Collins and guitarist Eric Clapton.
It also meant going to Woodstock. (While Bradford admitted he slept through Jimi Hendrix’s set, “because I hadn’t slept for three days,” he saw The Doors and Santana perform.)
After taking cultural anthropology in the early 1970s, Bradford sought out the Canadian wilderness and lived for a time with the Cree Aboriginals, who were protesting near Nordegg for a land claim that was later settled near Buck Lake.
He worked as a carpenter in Rocky Mountain House and Fairview, where he first began bringing in music acts. This continued after he moved to Red Deer in 1986.
In some ways, there were more cultural options then, said Bradford, who recalled big blues acts regularly rolled through Alberta with more people interested in live music.
While many young people now ensconced at home with their electronics, Bradford said there are plenty of middle-aged and older folks who still like to mingle, dance and sing along to live music.
For more information about CMF shows, please visit centralmusicfest.com.