Taking place this weekend in Fundy National Park, the sixth edition of the Rising Tide Festival is getting set to welcome musicians, artists and community into the wondrous natural beauty of the park.
Encompassing 12 kms of shoreline along the Bay of Fundy, the park is home to more than 100 kms of biking and hiking trails winding their way through more than 200 square kms of forest. Along the way, nature-seekers are treated to freshwater lakes, waterfalls and breathtaking views, while also being able to indulge in camping and golf.
For some, the thought of introducing a festival centred on music might seem contrary to the very notion of nature. Parks Canada, however, sees it as a way to connect Canadians, especially those who are not regular visitors, to the country’s parks.
While getting Maritimers out to the event is important to organizers, they are also acutely aware that the audience for the festival may incidentally include people from outside of the region, or from outside of Canada.
Rising Tide Festival programmer Brent Mason sheepishly admits that his Fundy Park experience is not as extensive as it could be, considering he lives just down the road in Saint John.
“When I finally found my way to Fundy Park as a prior Rising Tide performer, I was immediately taken with the setting and atmosphere,” Mason says. “I was gushing to everyone I could find on how stunning the views were and how it was such a great environment in which to conduct a festival.”
Mason will be pulling double duty this year, having been a part of the festival programming, while also getting to share more than two decades of his acclaimed catalogue at the festival’s songwriting circle.
When it came to selecting the artists and groups to perform at the Rising Tide Festival, Mason says incorporating the disparate music styles found throughout the Maritimes was key.
“I’d like to think my stamp on the festival is the diverse range of music from the region that people can enjoy, including Anglophone and Francophone artists encompassing bluegrass, soul, folk, blues, country and gospel.”
Although he does not have specific attendance numbers to share, Mason says that, based on his experience, previous editions of Rising Tide have been well received by the public, noting the relationship between nature and culture are more closely intertwined than people may believe.
“I’ve always thought that nature and culture have been great cohabitants. There is a symbiotic relationship happening there for sure. I extend a big round of applause to Parks Canada for the continued initiative of bringing a festival into Fundy Park. It truly is a win-win situation as far as I am concerned,” Mason says.
Among the artists slated to perform at the Rising Tide Festival this weekend is Fredericton native Alan Jeffries. With a love of bluegrass instilled in him early in his life courtesy of his father, Jeffries went on to perform with country traditionalists Petunia and the Loons before being called upon by others, including David Myles, to accompany them.
“My father played banjo in a bluegrass band called Goldrush from the time I was an infant and my whole family would tag along to shows. As I got older, my father and I would spend a lot of summer weekends travelling to bluegrass festivals in Rogersville, Moncton and some other locations in the province.”
While the journey into the making of a solo record might have been slightly sidelined by his being in demand to work with other musicians, Jeffries says the decision to make a solo record in a bluegrass vein seemed like a natural entry point.
Coffee Til Midnight, an album comprised of original and traditional material, was released in February 2013, featuring contributions from David Myles in addition to acclaimed fiddler Ray Legere. The album would go on to win an East Coast Music Award for Roots and Traditional Album of the Year.
“Making that album was something that was close to my heart because bluegrass is where it all started for me,” he says. “I felt like a lot of those people I knew as a child are still going to those bluegrass festivals and wanted to give them something in the way of thanks for showing me the ropes.”
In addition to Jeffries’ performance, a uniquely Maritime lineup awaits attendees at the Rising Tide Festival. Also performing will be Moncton-based fiddler Samantha Robichaud, P.E.I. folk hero Lennie Gallant, Fredericton blues man Ross Neilsen, Cédric Vieno and others.
What: Rising Tide Music Festival
When: Saturday Aug. 22 and Sunday Aug. 23
Where: Fundy National Park, Alma
Shows are included in the price of a park day pass.
Rising Tide Music Festival Schedule
Saturday Aug. 22
10 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. – Writing about Nature with Clyde Wray – Location TBD
This workshop is for children only (age 8 to 13). Pick up free ticket at the park’s Visitor Centre.
12:30 p.m. – 1:20 p.m. – Mike Biggar – Fundy Outdoor Theatre
1:40 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. – Ashley Condon – Fundy Outdoor Theatre
2:50 p.m. – 3:40 p.m. – Cédric Viéno – Fundy Outdoor Theatre
4 p.m. – 4:50 p.m. – Catherine MacLellan – Fundy Outdoor Theatre
5:10 p.m. – 6 p.m. – WTFunk – Fundy Outdoor Theatre
7:30 p.m. – 9 p.m. – Songwriter Circle featuring Brent Mason, Catherine MacLellan, Cédric Viéno and Ashley Condon – Molly Kool Cabin / Centre
Sunday Aug. 23
10 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. – Gospel gathering with Mike Biggar – Location TBD
12:30 p.m. – 1:20 p.m. – Ross Neilsen – Fundy Outdoor Theatre
1:40 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. – Samantha Robichaud – Fundy Outdoor Theatre
2:50 p.m. – 3:40 p.m. – Alan Jeffries and 50 Shades Of Blues – Fundy Outdoor Theatre
4 p.m. – 4:50 p.m. – Lennie Gallant – Fundy Outdoor Theatre