Virtual concert series celebrates 'Sudbury music

·4 min read

We all search for good news these days. And maybe a little distraction, too? What about some music and free entertainment?

Sudbury Performance Group (SPG) president Mark Mannisto has announced that the 2nd edition of the group’s Northern Arts Festival will go ahead as planned.

“Last year, we were able to hold our festival right before the pandemic wreaked havoc across the world.”

That first festival, in February 2020, was held with no assistance from any level of government.

“In traditionally off days,” Mannisto said, ”artists were getting paid.”

Venues, too, were getting patrons.

“Federal, provincial, and municipal governments took note of the success of our festival, and all three have come on board to ensure that SPG continues to support local musicians in 2021.”

The lockdown forced the Sudbury Performance Group to move from February to the summer.

“The gang at the Coulson has been terrific," he said, referring to where the virtual concerts are being held. "After each night we are in, the next day the entire venue gets sanitized again. We want to ensure that there is enough time for them to keep it safe for all involved.

“The Coulson has been sitting closed since last March. We have been the only group that has been in and performing. It is our own private sanitized sound studio, so to speak.

"The Coulson has been a real champion of the festival as they, too, see the importance of live music. It gives us the room to socially distance; it gives the artists the ability to social distance. It is a good fit.”

Working closely with Public Health Sudbury and District and city bylaw officers, Sudbury Performance Group said it ensures it is following all the proper pandemic guidelines.

“The last thing we want to do is circumvent any rules or regulations. The safety of our artists and the tech people (myself included) are of the utmost importance,” Mannisto said.

Beginning May 1, and continuing through the entire summer, the Sudbury Performance Group will offer “a roster of artists that are diverse, (that) speak to our community,” Mannisto said. “We have an eclectic blend of emerging and established artists in the folk, country, francophone, and rock genres and beyond. The SPG mandate is to promote theatre, music and comedy.”

All performances will be live-streamed from The Coulson nightclub. Performances run from 7 to 9 p.m., on Sudbury Performance Group’s Facebook page, and are free for audiences.

How did Sudbury Performance Group pick the acts?

“Some of the acts that we have booked I have worked with in the past. Some were involved in last year's festival while others I worked with in my days at Theatre Cambrian. Some others approached me.

"At the end of the day, I would always run my ideas through Steve McArthur. Steve is the resident booking agent at the Coulson and has a long career in the music industry.”

Mannisto said he likes the local flavour of the program.

“All acts are from the Sudbury area, or at least have direct ties to the Sudbury area. We are looking at this as a celebration of Sudbury music. Since we have been forced to live stream all of our performances, we are getting people tuning in from Canada and the United States, and as far away as Germany and Mexico.

"We have been garnering anywhere between 2,000 and 5,000 views per event thus far.”

The festival lineup

May

1 - Dave McNab

8 - Baz & Infanti

15 - Fortunate Losers

22 - Edouard Landry

29 - Whiskey Trip

June:

5 - Thea May

12 - Twenty-One

19 - Natalie Crispo Band

26 - Chanelle Albert and the Easy Company

July:

3 - Roller Rink Rewind

10 - Chicks with Picks

24 - Skylark

31 - Restored

August:

7 - Jellycap

14 - Tessa Balaz

21 - Andy Lowe

What you need to know:

Sudbury Performance Group (SPG)

Northern Arts Festival

Weekly every Saturday evening from 7 until 9

Streamed for free from the SPG Facebook page

Sudbury Performance Group’s Northern Arts Festival is made possible through the support of the Government of Canada, the Province of Ontario, the Ontario Arts Council, SOCAN, and the City of Greater Sudbury.

The Local Journalism Initiative is made possible through funding from the federal government.

sud.editorial@sunmedia.ca

Twitter: @SudburyStar

Hugh Kruzel, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Sudbury Star