Stereophonic Festival set to take the stage

For decades now, campus and community radio stations across North America have veered a little off the beaten path.

The program directors at any given station across the country help to ensure a diverse mix of music for their listeners, including regular multicultural radio shows as well as a healthy dose of rock, heavy metal and indie rock to name but a few genres of music.

CHMA 106.9 FM, based out of Sackville, is owned and operated by members of Attic Broadcasting Co Ltd, a non-profit organization whose offices are on the Mount Allison University campus. Over the past eight years, the station has been staging the Stereophonic Music Festival every January. The festival is one of several ways that the station goes about raising the funds necessary to cover operating and staffing costs for the remainder of the year. The Stereophonic Festival has consistently offered some of the region’s best independent talent over the course of a cold January weekend and 2011 shall be no different. A solid line up of music including Julie Doiron, Baby Eagle, It Kills and more are scheduled to play the 2011 edition, solidifying the festival as one of the reasons why an East Coast winter ain’t so bad after all.

Festival co-ordinator Scott Brown says that this year’s Stereophonic Festival entered its planning stages in the summer when he and his festival partner Alyson Kelly found out that they had been charged with organizing the event. By mid-fall, he says that festival preparations were in full swing.

Now that the festival is in its eighth year, Kelly admits that they have garnered positive and as such, regional musicians will often plan their schedules around the festival to ensure they are free if they are called upon to play. But it’s not only regional acts that the festival aims to attract. There are plenty of national artists that the festival would love to have perform but that the timing is a little more delicate to pull off.

“As for touring bands, it really depends on their schedules. Luckily for us, there are two other Maritime music festivals that also take place during the winter,” she says. “In the weeks that follow Stereophonic, Halifax has the In The Dead of Winter Festival taking place while Fredericton hosts the Shivering Songs Festival so it definitely helps line up the acts that we want to attract. It makes things easier for both the bands as well as the festivals.”

According to Alyson, she and Scott share similar tastes in music so there wasn’t a whole lot in the way of obvious gaps when they first assembled their wish list of bands they would like to have perform at the festival.

“For the most part, we were able to secure the acts we had been hoping for,” she says. “We’re lucky in that at this point in the festival’s lifespan, enough local bands are aware of the festival that they take it upon themselves to contact us. “This year marks the fullest line up Stereophonic has ever had and we are thrilled with the overwhelming interest performers had in playing.”

Alyson is adamant that the roles of campus and community radio stations are as important as they ever have been in the bigger day-to-day picture, giving the station the opportunity to not only be involved in campus activity but also in the lives of Sackville’s permanent residents as well.

Sackville residents do a large portion of the programming heard on CHMA. The station’s longest running show is The Bluegrass Jam and is hosted by Wilson Moore. Wilson is helping to organize a live Bluegrass Jam during the Stereophonic Festival. It takes place at the town’s Vogue Cinema on Saturday starting at 2 p.m.

Article published in January 18, 2011 edition of the Times & Transcript