Juno-Award-nominated country singer Shane Yellowbird and an acoustic edition of the Nova Scotia rockers, The Trews, are headlining the 2010 Central Music festival this summer.
Festival-goers will hear from the U.S. Tex-Mex party band Ponty Bone & the Squeezetones and many made-in-Alberta acts, including Innisfail-native Steve Coffey, Jenny Allen from The Fates, and local bands Oldbury and St. James’ Gate.
Also on the roster for “the best little-known festival in Alberta” on Aug. 13 and 14 are the Colorado country-rock group Great American Taxi, the gospel Black Pioneer Heritage Singers from Amber Valley, Calgary’s Lindsay Ell, and Memphis-born blues man Jim Byrnes.
“We’re very excited about this year’s lineup,” said festival producer Mike Bradford, who believes the 25 performers represent the best musical entertainment his non-profit group can deliver to Central Albertans.
Not only will there be a good stylistic mix — from rock to country, gospel and blues, but Bradford believes the festival society also managed to get the best balance possible, considering its budget, of well-known to lesser-known performers.
“One of the things I enjoy at any festival is hearing a name or two that I recognize and six that I don’t recognize, but their music is new and it’s refreshing,” he said.
The fourth-annual festival is again set to go in a natural amphitheatre on private land just west of the C&E Trail, minutes north of Red Deer. Bradford described it as an acoustically perfect venue that won’t have the lineups and traffic tie-ups of many larger festivals around the province.
“People have called it a safe, family environment” said Bradford, who added past feedback from performers and audience members has been fantastic.
The 2010 Central Music Festival will once again feature a Kids Korner with a magician entertaining, a beer garden, and food and arts and crafts booths. “What we’re trying to do is have a little cultural convergence,” added Bradford.
“The only other component that we need to make it successful is bums on the grass.”
Cold weather last summer presumably kept people away — attendance was only about half of the 500-people-a-day the music festival had in 2008.
This year, for the first time, all city media outlets are on-board as festival sponsors, as is the City of Red Deer and a pile of local businesses. Bradford hopes more marketing saturation, the use of new social messaging tools, such as Twitter, and expanded community support will translate into higher attendance figures.
He’s hoping for 1,000 people a day, although the site could accommodate up to 3,000.
Winners of a local festival talent contest will open the festival on both days: The Half Chance Heroes rock group from Red Deer are playing on Friday, while the roots duo from Rocky Mountain House, The Doll Sisters, are Saturday’s opening act.
Shelby and Jenna Doll attended the press conference in Red Deer Wednesday to express their excitement at being able to expand their audience through the festival — so did Red Deer singer/songwriter Lisa Heinrichs, who will be performing for the second year in a row.
“It’s a great atmosphere,” said Heinrichs, who appreciates the chance to play original music in a laid-back outdoor setting.
Another 2010 festival act, the local trio Backwoods Roots Revue, agreed to play a private concert for the winner of a festival raffle. And singer and visual artist Coffey, donated the original painting he created for the festival poster as another raffle prize.
For more information about the raffle or the festival lineup, go to www.centralmusicfest.com. Festival news can also be followed on Twitter @centralmusicfes.
Advance tickets to both days are $60 for adults, students and seniors until July 4 from the Black Knight Ticket Centre or Valhalla Pure Outfitters. After that date they are $75 for adults or $65 for seniors/students. Children under 13 are free with an adult.
Day passes are $50 for adults, seniors and students at the gate.