Evolve Festival Makes Big Move To N.B.

Earthbound Trio are set to perform at Evolve Festival
Earthbound Trio are set to perform at Evolve Festival

From its humble beginnings at the turn of the century as a grassroots musical gathering, the Evolve Festival has, for lack of a better term, evolved to become an annual gathering that attracts thousands of festivalgoers.

The festival’s all-for-one and one-for-all spirit, combined with an array underground DJs, international performers, and a generous helping of regional talent, has helped make Evolve one of the Maritimes’ top outdoor destination music festivals.

This year marks a turning point for the long-running festival, as it will be the first to be held at the venue’s new site in Clairville, just north of Moncton, after 15 years in Antigonish County, Nova Scotia.

The move to New Brunswick follows what Evolve Executive Director Jonas Colter believes was an intended effort to drive the festival away from its former location.

“Essentially, the county of Antigonish had imposed a number of bylaws, some of which were great, due diligence kind of measures,” Colter begins. “Others, however, were merely repeats of what the province’s department of tourism had us doing to ensure the festival was being responsible with respect to water tests and bathroom facilities, while also ensuring that emergency health services and the RCMP knew about the event.”

Colter says the straw that broke the figurative camel’s back, prompting the festival’s relocation to Moncton, was the decision of Antigonish council to require the festival’s medical plan to be written by a doctor. While he didn’t outright disagree with council’s decision, Colter alleges Antigonish wasn’t flexible in providing deadline extensions he had requested to get the paperwork submitted, an allegation that was refuted by a clerk-treasurer with the town in a Times & Transcript interview in May.

Now that the matter has been effectively settled, the organizer sees the events leading up to the festival’s relocation as nothing but serendipitous.

“Since becoming part-owner of Evolve in 2008, there was a part of me that wanted to move to the Moncton area. Given the success of shows that have taken place in the city over the last decade, and the closer proximity to suppliers, it just makes sense for Evolve to be located here,” Colter says.

Admitting that the New Brunswick government was essentially indifferent to Evolve’s decision to relocate to the province, Colter believes the festival’s prior success is arguably well known in business circles.

“The festival didn’t receive anything in the way of incentives to come to New Brunswick or anything of that sort. At the same token, however, Evolve has proven there is a positive financial impact that comes along with a festival of this magnitude. There is a reason why Fred Penner has played the festival on a few occasions in the past; there is a reason why David Myles has chosen to drop by. We’ve curated a well-respected festival. It is something that we are proud of.”

St. Andrews funk-folk band Earthbound Trio are among the many acts slated to perform at Evolve over the course of this coming weekend. The group continues promoting its latest studio effort, Ditch Flowers, which was released last fall.

Earthbound Trio vocalist-guitarist Dwayne Doucette tells us that Evolve’s constant focus on helping promote local talent has been a cornerstone of the festival’s ongoing success.

“We first played Evolve in 2012, and have since worked our way up to better stages and time slots,” Doucette says. “It’s truly amazing the amount of time that we have met people at our various shows that have told us that they saw us perform at Evolve. The festival has proven to consistently be a good time for both bands and fans. It is the kind of place that you’re sure to share fun experiences with new friends. We are certainly looking forward to returning to the Evolve stage this weekend.”

In addition to Earthbound Trio, Evolve will host an eclectic mix of Canadian and international talent. Among the headliners are Danny Brown, Australia’s Dub FX, and Nova Scotia native Skratch Bastid, while fellow Maritimers Slowcoaster, Rain Over St. Ambrose, Stephen Lewis, Arsoniste and Like A Motorcycle will perform alongside Moncton natives BITS (VJ Jonah Hache), and Superlove among many others.

For a complete list of performers, visit www.evolvefestival.com.

What: Evolve Festival
When: Thursday July 7 through Sunday July 10
Where: 274 Girvan Rd., Clairville, N.B.
Festival passes are $185, plus service fees. Advanced weekend passes include parking, camping and admission to all performances on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Admission for Thursday July 7 performances are $30.  Passes are available for purchase at Spin It Records (467 Main St., Moncton) and online at www.ticketpro.ca.