Get ready to FredRock

This coming weekend, the City of Fredericton officially throws its hat into the summer music festival ring with the inaugural FredRock festival.

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While the City of Fredericton has built an incredible international reputation with the annual Harvest Blues and Jazz Festival, branching out to more mainstream acts was somewhat inevitable. The festival is offering music fans in Atlantic Canada to see veteran acts like The Black Crowes and Live alongside a healthy dose of Canadiana rock bands like Matt Mays, Fredericton’s Age of Daze, The Respectables and Die Mannequin.

According to the festival website at www.fredrockfestival.com, the weekend should look something like this:

The festival gets underway with an indoor show at the Capitol Exhibition Centre on Friday June 19 with a slate of DJ’s including DJ Noematus and Skratch Bastid spinning tunes. Doors at the exhibition centre open at 9 p.m. Friday evening.

Saturday June 20 is when the bigger names start rolling in to perform. Doors open at 3 p.m. Saturday afternoon with She Roars slated to take the stage at 3:45 p.m. They are scheduled to be followed by Fall and Divide at 4:30 p.m. and Ross Neilsen and the Sufferin Bastards at 5:30 p.m. Quebec band The Respectables, currently invading radio stations everywhere with their Gordie Johnson-produced hit “Sugar” are slated to hit the stage at 6:30 p.m.; Halifax’s Matt Mays takes the stage at 7:45 p.m., followed by Atlanta band The Black Crowes at 9:30 p.m..

The final day of the FredRock festival should play out as such: Doors open at 2 p.m. with The Nancies on stage at 3:15 p.m. Futures Past is up at 4 p.m. with BM Linx at 4:45 p.m. Toronto band Die Mannequin, who have shared the stage with both Guns N Roses and Sum 41 in the past, take the stage at 5:45 p.m. Fredericton’s own Age of Daze hit the stage at 6:45 p.m. while Pennsylvania rock band Live will close the weekend off, starting at 8:30 p.m. Sunday evening.

Saturday night’s performance by The Black Crowes will be the first time they are performing in New Brunswick in almost two decades since they stormed charts worldwide with their gritty, southern rock n roll. The band’s most recent studio record Warpaint was released last year after a seven year absence from the studio. The even more recently release Warpaint Live features the band performing their newest record in its entirety along with some carefully selected cover songs before a thrilled Los Angeles crowd.

Since rising to fame in the mid 1990s with their sophomore record Throwing Copper, Live have continued making and releasing records. Their newest record is also a live effort, “Live – At The Paradiso Amsterdam”; a CD/DVD set which also features two new songs from the group.

Fredericton band Age of Daze will take the stage just prior to Live on Sunday evening, much to the delight of their hometown fans. FredRock Festival organizer Mike Babineau says that the organizers were flooded with e-mails from fans asking if the band would be performing at the festival.

“We weren’t able to confirm Age of Daze appearance at the festival until just a couple of weeks ago. Their schedule is pretty packed and we are very happy that we were able to add them into the lineup of the festival.”

After Age of Daze appearance at the FredRock festival, the band has shows scheduled with bands such as Theory Of A Deadman, Billy Talent, Collective Soul and Hinder in their sights.

But with concerts from AC/DC, Paul McCartney and Kiss are all slated for Atlantic Canada music fans over the next two months; it is a stark reality that consumers only have so much disposable income to go around; some are worried the even bigger names being featured elsewhere later in the summer could affect the final attendance count at FredRock.

However according to Babineau, things are right on track for meeting their expectations:

“We are pretty happy with the way things have been going in terms of ticket sales,” Babineau says. “We feel that there is a good buzz around the Maritimes leading up to the show. We have gotten a lot of e-mails from people planning on traveling to Fredericton who are looking for places to stay.

“We are close to where we want to be in terms of sales and are optimistic for a large walk up crowd once the weekend arrives.”

The Exhibition Centre isn’t going to be the only place to catch bands over the course of the weekend though. Venues throughout Fredericton like Crumbs Café, Nicky Zee’s, The Capital Bar and Sweetwaters are playing host to bands and artists like 16th Avenue, Awake By Sunday and Ashley George.

Even with such a great lineup of talent scheduled to play over the course of the weekend, 2009 will prove to be a testing ground of sorts for the FredRock Festival. Babineau acknowledges that the show’s promoters are anxious to see how this year’s festival goes before deciding how to proceed in the future.

“We will sure see how this year turns out. After the weekend is over and the dust has settled, we will then look at next year. We would like to make the FredRock festival an annual event; we truly feel that Fredericton should and can support this type of festival going forward.”

With Moncton and Halifax both established concert centers in the sense of playing host to large scale draws and names, does Babineau believe that the population of the Maritimes can support the addition of new cities into the concert scene?

“Ultimately, we want to give Fredericton its own place within the rock concert scene in the Maritimes. We would love to keep the younger demographic here in the city to invest their money in local businesses,” Babineau states matter-of-factly. “We’ve seen the positive impacts that the Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival has brought to the city and we are keen to help contribute to the city’s success.”

The FredRock Festival runs from June 19 through 21. Complete details including ticket prices can be found on their website at www.fredrockfestival.com.

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