Just a few more days until uptown Saint John is buzzing with not one, but two, super exciting music festivals: the ECMAs, naturally — but also their younger, scrappier cousin, the Quality Block Party.
"Where the ECMAs are an industry association, what we're offering is a more grassroots approach," said organizer Peter Rowan. "Without that, there would be no industry. We're showcasing a type of creation that has changed a lot since 20 years ago when the industry was a lot different."
The Quality Block Party runs from Wednesday through Sunday at various venues, including Five and Dime, Elwood's Wood Lab, Yuk Yuks, Taco Pica, and Backstreet Records.
It's designed to complement, rather than compete with, the East Coast Music Awards.
"They're representing a much bigger umbrella than we are — 18 genres across four regions," said Rowan. "We're not saddled with that responsibility."
At noon Saturday, April 29, is the Quality Hop, a series of free all-ages shows featuring regional acts such as Josh Bravener, Bad People, Owen Steel, Galpines, Cellarghost, and ER and the Other playing at local shops like Brick City Barbers, Heartbreak Boutique, Exchange on Germain, Elwood's, and Backstreet Records.
A zine fair and expo will be held the same afternoon at Port City Royal, showcasing many of the local zine-makers, visual artists, and illustrators that folks in Fredericton have been seeing this weekend at Flourish Festival.
Quality Block Party is partnering with Third Shift to host a full day of short film installations at the White Room at 36 Water St.
"All day on Saturday at the White Room, we're going to present multiple screenings of various film works that have been made by the Third Space gang," said Rowan. "It will be running there all day, and we're also using that space for shows as well."
Since the festival was first announced, the lineup has swelled to 60 acts —55 of which are from New Brunswick.
More quantity, more quality
There was so much talent to choose from, Rowan has another announcement to make.
"We're totally doing it again on Aug. 10 to 12," he said.
"This week, we're taking advantage of the eyes and ears that are going to be on us for the ECMAs that might not be here regularly."
But in round two, later this summer, Rowan said, the continuation of Quality Block Party will "use lot of the same venues, incorporate some outdoor elements and take advantage of the summer August weather."
In the meantime, music fans will want to grab their tickets.
"The response has been great," said Rowan. "This is a chance to showcase the city, and the most active bands that we think are cool in New Brunswick."