In just four short years, Acadie Rock, a celebration of music, art, literature, and more, has gone from inhabiting small venues in Metro Moncton to become one of the summer`s most anticipated festivals.
This year’s Acadie Rock Festival, which takes its name from the influential 1973 novel written by Guy Arsenault, will arguably be its most ambitious yet, with shows from more than 40 artists planned over the course of seven days and seven nights.
“To say the festival has grown exponentially would be a bit of an understatement,” Acadie Rock Artistic Director Marc Arsenault says. “From our beginnings as a two-night festival that we held in Aberdeen Park to where we are today, with large outdoor show on the riverfront and the inclusion of bands and artists from all over the world, it’s been a great ride so far.”
Stating the festival aspires to grow organically, Arsenault says Acadie Rock looks to the Montreal Jazz Festival, with its numerous stages and variety of acts spanning different genres of music, as a model on which they base the festival.
And though he doesn’t outright say it, the notion that Acadie Rock is able to attract national and international headliners including Moncton’s own Lisa Leblanc, Quebec’s Misteur Valaire and Sweet Crude from Louisiana, shows they have garnered a solid reputation in a relatively short four years.
“Landing acts like Lisa Leblanc, Mononc’ Serge and Misteur Valaire is a great win for us and festival-goers. This year, we noticed an uptake in bands and people from outside of the province looking to be a part of the festival. It is a good position to be in,” Arsenault says.
Although Acadie Rock’s free main stage performances to be held on the Moncton Riverfront could undoubtedly be considered the cornerstones of the festival, Arsenault implores the public to also check out some of the smaller venues and artists.
“The smaller shows are wonderful for people to discover acts which they might not be familiar with otherwise. In my opinion, it is all top notch stuff.”
Despite the Acadie Rock Festival being staged to coincide with the Acadian Holiday of August 15, Arsenault emphasizes that everyone is welcome to join the celebration, and discover a slate of international talent and cultures.
“Acadie Rock is not a uniquely Francophone festival by any means. We strive to make sure that everyone feels welcome at all of the events. The whole festival is driven by a spirit of camaraderie.”
Among the non-Francophone acts taking part in Acadie Rock is Moncton-based folk-roots band East Coast Love Story. Last month, the group performed alongside Blue Rodeo at Fredericton’s FredRock Festival and will actually be using Acadie Rock to launch their debut effort.
“We were honoured to be invited to perform at Acadie Rock,” East Coast Love Story guitarist Ryan Hillier says. “The inclusiveness of the festival is wonderful. Having the chance to perform for a demographic that might not be familiar with us is a great opportunity to be given.”
Arsenault says finding new talent for audiences, like East Coast Love Story, has consistently been one of the festival’s main objectives.
“We never want the festival to be in a position where we are simply repeating the same bands and artists year after year. It’s important to keep the festival financially viable and not overextend ourselves, but I think we have found a good balance between those two things thus far.”
Another of Acadie Rock’s objectives has been to showcase a wide range of musical genres on the festival’s stages. While some people may have a preconceived notion of what Acadian music might sound like, he credits Acadian artists for consistently thinking outside the box when it comes to the style of music which they choose to be defined by.
“What has been most remarkable to me is the way that Acadian culture has developed. From right here in Moncton, you’ve got artists like Lisa Leblanc, Les Hay Babies and Radio Radio, all of whom sound nothing like each other. What they do have in common, however, is that they are each breaking down barriers to show that Acadian music can be everything from more traditionally-minded music through hip-hop and heavy metal.”
What: Acadie Rock
When: Wednesday Aug. 12 through Wednesday Aug. 19
Where: Various venues throughout Moncton
Festival information is available online at acadierock.ca