ECMAs to get some competition in Saint John

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Quality Block Party starts this week in Saint John

A new festival aiming to cater to musicians left out from the East Coast Music Awards has recently been announced in Saint John.

Quality Block Party will be taking place April 26 to 30, the same week as the East Coast Music Awards

Peter Rowan, artist manager for the event, said alternative showcases typically happen at the same time as the ECMAs, making it almost a tradition.

He said the plans for an alternative festival started when it was first announced that Saint John would host the ECMAs.

"Quite a few of the bands that we thought were most relevant in the communities that we're working with, weren't really going to be represented by the ECMAs," he said.

Following the announcement, Rowan and Corey Bonnevie, who plays in the band Little You, Little Me, soon started to look at local venues. 

30 bands playing

Rowan said the festival would include acts from Moncton, Fredericton, Sackville, as well as Saint John.

There are about 30 bands expected to play in total.

A major part of the festival's focus is to unite several independent music communities from across the province.

"For a long time there's been a disconnect between the smaller scenes," said Bonnevie, "It feels like it's starting to come together."

​Bonnevie hopes music fans from outside Saint John will make the trip to increase the audience within the province's indie scene.

Acts already confirmed include, Julie Doiron, Bad People, The Waking Night, Reagan's Rayguns, Owen Steel, Beard Springsteen, Penny Blacks, Math Class, Cellarghost, ER and the Other, and The Galpines.

Pat Bonner plays drums for Right Sh--ty, a band based out of Saint John, which was also added to the bill.

"It's nice to be part of … something that seems like it's more part of the community," said Bonner.

Bonner said he's looking forward to taking in the festival himself, which fits in well with his musical taste.

"You see all these bands quite often but seeing them all in one place is really awesome," he said.

Several uptown venues

Quality Block Party will be held at multiple venues in the uptown part of the city, including Five and Dime, Elwood's Wood Lab, Yuk Yuks, Taco Pica, and Backstreet Records.

Outside the doors of Backstreet Records, is a 'Q' laid out on Germain Street. This marks the so–called "Quality Block." 

"A lot of people forgot the Quality Block existed as a brand," said Gordie Tufts, owner of the record store.

The nickname actually came from an advertising campaign by Bustin's Fine Furniture, which used to be down the street.

"It's great to see this resurrected again." said Tufts, who will be hosting several noon–hour concerts inside his record shop.

The acts featured by the festival will not be mainstream, but for Tufts, that's part of the fun.

"I call it the undercurrent of the New Brunswick and Atlantic Canadian music scene," he said. "The established artists are guaranteed sell–outs and that's great."