POMQUET: A local songwriters and storytellers society is partnering with the Stan Rogers Folk Festival to deliver an upcoming in-person and virtual concert.

Jennifer MacDonald, Director of the Songwriters and Storytellers Society, said George Canyon, Bruce Guthro, Beòlach, Reeny Smith, Owen O’Sound Lee, Chris Kirby, Kim Dunn and Dee Dee Austin will perform a live and streamed concert at the PJ Baccardax Hall in Pomquet on March 26.

After hosting three concerts, the society was approved for FACTOR funding in December, but with public health restrictions still in effect, MacDonald said the Antigonish-based society decided to join forces with Stanfest 2022 to produce an event celebrating songs, songwriters and the reopening of live performance venues in Nova Scotia.

“So we got all this funding and needed to spend it by the end of March and so we had to come up with a pretty big event to get it all spent in one day, so to speak,” MacDonald noted. “We paired with Troy (Greencorn) because we were back and forth with him a lot talking about shows and how to manage during these crazy times. He sort of had a problem and we had a solution, in that he needed to start promoting Stanfest. They missed the last few years and he needed to get promotions going so we said, ‘we’ve got the money, and you need an event,’ so we put our heads together and came up with this. Basically we’re going to run it like a main stage at Stanfest… Each artist will go on for 45 minutes, with intermission in the middle.”

Stanfest founder and producer Troy Greencorn said they were thrilled to be approached by the society to partner on this show, noting this event is a great follow-up to a similar live and streamed concert in Canso back in September, as well as partnerships formed in Pictou.

“Over the past two years, we’ve been looking to remain active anyway that we could. That’s partly about delivering music to our festival community,” said Greencorn. “When the songwriters’ society called and said, ‘hey, we’d like to a concert in March to celebrate the reopening of live music, would you like to partner?’ We jumped at the opportunity.”

Greencorn said members of the society have been long-time supporters of Stanfest, with their loyal attendance since the beginning, then eventually serving as food and craft vendors.

“What important to us is to help out the musicians and technicians by bringing them work. That’s something I’m really proud of with this event,” he said. “When we decided we were going to do it, we pretty much decided that even if the restrictions change, and we couldn’t have anybody in the hall, we were still going to do it so that we could stream it. Then the way things have unfolded, it works out great.”

With gathering restrictions lifting in March, Greencorn said Stanfest organizers are “charging ahead” with plans for the 25th anniversary festival this summer in Canso.

“We’re not quite to the point where were doing the release about the festival this year; the details,” he told The Reporter. “Like every festival in the country, we’ve been waiting and hoping to get the greenlight to be able to pull the switch and go for it. The announcement by the province (two weeks ago) was the greenlight that were waiting on, so we’re full speed ahead and later this month we’ll be making a bunch of announcements.”

Greencorn said it was “really disappointing” to lose two festivals because of the pandemic but organizers used that time to rethink and refresh their model, and to publish a 300-page commemorative book.

“Our size has always been one of our biggest assets,” he noted. “We were one of the biggest in Atlantic Canada, but along comes a pandemic and your size is your biggest detriment. The prospect of gathering 2,000 or 3,000 was not even something that could be discussed in the past two years.”

Because it’s an indoor event with 20 artists and technicians, and no more than 150 people at the hall, MacDonald said it will include seated tables and chairs, row seating, and there will table service.

“It won’t be noisy, it’s a listening room kind of event,” she noted. “People have really enjoyed that in the past. It’s a different audience.”

Both MacDonald and Greencorn noted that all livestream revenues will be donated to the Dollar a Day Foundation which supports mental health causes across Canada. More information and ticket links can be found at: www.stanfest.com/riseagain.

“There’s an unlimited number of livestream tickets,” MacDonald stated. “All of the tickets funds from the livestream is going to Allan Doyle’s Dollar a Day charity, which is a mental health initiative. We’re really excited about that.”

MacDonald added the society wants to continue hosting an ongoing concert series in Pomquet, among other plans.

“Hopefully we stay open this time and we can get on with things,” said MacDonald. “There isn’t a live music venue doing what we’re doing in Antigonish anyway. Beyond running our own concert series, what we’re trying to do is renovate the hall and get it more suitable for culture and music events, for rehearsal spaces, for your recitals and community theatre, whatever needs to happen. There’s actually just not a lot to choose from in Antigonish, for that type of event.”