Rock On, Acadie

Taking its name from the influential 1973 novel written by Guy Arsenault, the newly-launched Acadie Rock festival is ready to rock Metro Moncton this week.

Boasting a diverse range of events from live music and poetry readings to child-oriented activities and late night musical showcases, the festival aims to offer something to please everyone, no matter what age.

It is no coincidence that the festival kicks off on Wednesday, Aug. 15, the Acadian National Holiday. The festival concludes on Friday evening.

Organizer Marc Arsenault says that the seed to host an Acadian-oriented festival in Metro Moncton arose from the unfortunate demise of another Acadian festival, the annual ‘Le 15 aout des fous’ that left a gaping hole when it came to the celebrating the musical talents of Acadie.

“Since the demise of le 15 aout des fous, there has been an undisputable hole left in Moncton,” Arsenault says. “Festivities surrounding the Acadian National Holiday have been pretty much absent from the Hub City since. Thoughts of reviving the festival seemed to resurface year after year but it seemed as though the festival had in fact run its course.

“Because Moncton has such a large population of Acadians and French-speaking inhabitants, we really felt as though there is a need to celebrate this culture. Together with the City of Moncton, it was Aberdeen Cultural Centre director Rene Legere and assistant director Eric Cormier who felt as though it was now time to bring back a major cultural event in Moncton and that the time was now.”

Arsenault says that celebrations surrounding the Aug. 15 Acadian Holiday have most often focused upon the more traditional Acadian music. He believes the tide began to turn around two decades ago, bringing modern Acadian music to the forefront.

“It was more than 20 years ago, and really even more than that, thanks to 1755, that bands such as Syntax Error, Idée du Nord, and Zero Degrees Celsius burst onto the scene with more contemporary sounds, themes and approaches,” Arsenault says. “I feel that they quietly set the stage for the emergence of a new, more modern Acadian music scene, which now boasts the likes of Lisa Leblanc and Radio Radio.”

As many festivals do, Arsenault says that Acadie Rock started with a wish list of performers that they would like to have featured at the festival. Taking into consideration artist availability as well as the financial aspects of getting a first-time festival afloat, Arsenault is proud of the diverse range of music and activities that Acadie Rock are able to offer.

“We have assembled what I feel is an absolutely phenomenal lineup, especially for a first-time festival,” he says. “The entire festival is not centered around music, either. There is an incredible lineup of authors that will be reading their work set to music specifically tailored to each reader. We also have a kids-themed afternoon as well as a round table discussion of acclaimed writers that will dissect and discuss the Acadie Rock novel.”

Arsenault is optimistic that the 2012 edition of Acadie Rock marks the beginning of an annual festival. He sees the festival expanding in terms of offerings in future editions and hopes that will also mean expanding the audience size of those taking in the festival.

“We are definitely hoping to build Acadie Rock into a must-see festival that will always be scheduled on and around the Acadian Holiday of Aug. 15,” Arsenault says. “We are very interested in bringing together more people year after year while also offering a wider range of acts. We hope to be able to expand our scope beyond local talent and include national and perhaps even international performers. The wheels are already turning on what next year’s festival will look like.”

Article published in August 13, 2012 edition of the Times & Transcript