As the Saturday launch date for the highly anticipated Acadie Rock festival draws ever closer, organizer Marc Arsenault feels relatively confident that the festival’s growing pains are behind it.
Admitting he remains prepared for the unexpected, Arsenault has every reason to feel confident in his initial observation. Over a relatively short five-year span, the festival has grown from a niche celebration of Acadian culture that took place in select venues in the city to welcoming thousands of revellers to a boisterous downtown party.
“The growth we’ve seen with respect to the festival has been amazing,” Arsenault says, noting this year’s main stage celebration, a free show set to take place on Monday evening, will see popular Acadian acts Les Hay Babies and Les Hotesses d’Hilaire perform alongside Quebecois artist Karim Ouellet and others.
“The toughest thing about putting together the lineup we are featuring on Monday evening is deciding who is going to play when. This year is one of the strongest rosters that the festival has had so far, a great combination of up and coming artists like CY and Maggie Savoie, alongside more established acts like Les Hay Babies and Klô Pelgag.”
Although Acadie Rock boasts a predominantly Acadian or Francophone lineup, Arsenault states that the inclusion of Anglophone acts, as well as Indigenous electronic-urban act A Tribe Called Red who is performing as a part of the Monday evening show, play a crucial role in the continued evolution of the festival.
“The inclusion of Anglophone acts is something that we have done right from the outset of the festival,” Arsenault says. “When we celebrate Canada Day, Acadians want to be included in those celebrations, so the inverse also holds true for Anglophones looking to take part in the Acadian Day celebrations. We’ve always felt it critical to have a festival lineup that is representative of the population of New Brunswick. No matter what language you speak, we encourage you to take part in the festival.”
Landing A Tribe Called Red for this year’s celebration marks an important step for the festival’s evolution. Not only does the trio complement the festival’s commitment to a diverse range of programming, the band also serves as a welcoming to individuals from New Brunswick’s First Nations.
“Bringing the First Nations People into the fold is something we’ve had on our radar for some time. A Tribe Called Red is the perfect band to bring into this type of environment, because like much of the Acadian programming we seek to bring to audiences, they have a distinct, modern sound, and don’t necessarily fall into the traditional sound that people may expect to hear.”
A Tribe Called Red member Tim “2oolman” Hill says the inclusion of his band in the Acadian Day celebrations helps to reinforce the message that they strive to get across to all listeners:
“We want to show that like-minded people can come together and stand for something together,” Hill says. “It doesn’t have to be a cultural thing; it all comes down to who wants change. It’s something that Indigenous and non-Indigenous people can unite over.”
While music comprises the bulk of Acadie Rock’s programming, the festival also offers a host of family-friendly activities, including Monday afternoon’s bloc party at Aberdeen Cultural Centre as well as that evening’s Tintamarre Parade.
A new addition to this year’s festival is the inclusion of a comedy evening, which will take place at Le Caveau on Thursday evening. Arsenault says the region boasts some of the finest French-language comedians the country offers, some of who have performed at Montreal’s prestigious Just For Laughs Festival.
“Comedy is a great addition to the festival as it adds another dimension of entertainment for people to enjoy. Martin Saulnier and Nathan Dimitroff have each performed with popular Quebec comedian Mike Ward, while J.C. Surette is a regular at the Hubcap Comedy Festival. We are proud to be able to have such great talent involved with the festival.”
What: Acadie Rock
When: Saturday Aug. 13 through Saturday Aug. 20
Where: Various venues throughout Moncton
For ticket purchase and a complete schedule, visit www.acadierock.ca