The Edmonton Folk Music Festival is changing things up this summer by offering street concerts in local neighbourhoods.
The popular summer festival announced it is “Taking it to the Streets” by bringing 40 concerts from the hill to the streets in the form of smaller neighbourhood shows each weekend from July 16 to Aug. 8.
The new concert offering comes after the festival announced in April that the 2021 Edmonton Folk Music Festival will not take place at Gallager Park this summer.
“After much discussion, we decided to try something new and bring the music to the community,” festival producer Terry Wickham said in a news release Tuesday morning.
“I think this year’s celebration will be special and offer an intimate experience that you don’t always get at larger venues. It’s also a great opportunity to meet your neighbours and celebrate your local community.”
Speaking with Global News, Wickham said there will be one concert Friday, three on Saturday and two on Sunday.
“We will bring the artist, we will bring all the production — sound, mics, sound system, delay towers — that kind of stuff. So they’re going to be fairly small,” he said.
“It’s going to be fairly acoustic, fairly folky.”
He expects demand to be high.
“It’s not going to be a first-come, first-served basis. We’re going to look at everything, make sure it’s suitable and then gauge how many there are,” he said.
“It may actually come to, we may have to draw lots. We don’t think we’ll be able to satisfy the full demand but at least 40 streets will have a good time.”
The festival has partnered with Epcor to offer the smaller concerts. Applications are now open for Edmonton-area residents to host a street concert and enjoy the sounds of folk music from the comfort of their own front yards.
“The Edmonton Folk Music Festival is one of our city’s most iconic summer traditions,” said Epcor president and CEO Stuart Lee. “We’re grateful for the dedicated musicians and festival organizers for launching this project that will bring music right to the front doors of local residents.”
Artist fees, programming and production costs are covered by the festival. Hosts will responsible for organizing their street concerts with their neighbours.
“We think this will be $80,000 into the hands of 16 local musicians plus their side musicians,” Wickham said.
“It’s going to be busy. It’s good to do something. We’re not pretending that it’s the folk festival or it’s going to replace the folk festival, but it is something and it’s going to put money in the hands of Edmonton musicians.”
Festival organizers cited several reasons for cancelling this year’s traditional event, including the inability to socially distance people and patrons who are not fully vaccinated.
The festival will also offer some online programming this year. More information is expected to be released in the coming weeks.
Wickham said the small street concerts will follow all Alberta Health Services public health guidelines and organizers will adapt to any changing scenarios.
“No matter what, this won’t break AHS guidelines because people can either stay on their lawns, which is one possibility. It might be five people, it might be 10 at present or it might change if the numbers stay low. It might be 250 people can gather like last year and if that’s the case, people can bring their lawn chairs out on the street, we’ll block off the street kind of like a block party but it’s a block concert instead,” he said.
“If it’s out on the street we might have to be more careful and that might require masks, but we’re just going to be flexible… If it’s the worst situation then you have to stay on your lawn. That’s OK. We’re bringing the concerts to you and you’ll be at home so you’ll have your own washrooms, you’ll have your own hand sanitizer etc., etc. So we don’t see a problem either way.
“Safety will be a big thing.”
For more information on how to sign up to host a summer street concert, visit the Edmonton Folk Music Festival’s website.
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