A two-day music festival headlined by country-rock icons Blue Rodeo is one of the first big entertainment events announced for this year.
The inaugural Revelree Music Festival takes place July 22- 23 in Canatara Park.
People are eager for live entertainment after two years of pandemic, says organizer Scott Palko.
“Hopefully, they’ll come out and have a good time and not have to break the bank to do so.”
Saturday’s lineup features Red Wanting Blue from Ohio, Texas King from London, Bedouin Soundclash, Sarnia-born Donovan Woods, and local favourite Big Wreck followed by Blue Rodeo. Gates open at 2 p.m.
Woods is a 2018 Juno winner who is nominated again this year for contemporary roots album of the year.
Things kick off 5 p.m. Friday with local artist Hayden Mellon doing an acoustic set, followed by Sarnia’s Bad Men Association, Thunder Bay’s The Honest Heart Collective, and finally The Cory James Mitchell Band.
The opening night features emerging artists in a range of genres, Palko said.
“We are leaning toward rock but there’s folk and country too, a little bit of everything.”
An empty Friday slot will be filled by a band chosen with input from public postings on Revelree’s social media platforms, he said.
“We want to help up-and-coming bands. That’s going to be a staple of the festival.”
Palko said organizers were “very, very lucky” to book Blue Rodeo, which has just resumed its Many a Mile tour.
“We looked at a number of bands – all great performers – and thought who would be the best fit. Blue Rodeo was on the top of our list,” he said. “They are a legendary band and haven’t played in Sarnia for about 20 years as far as we know.”
The concerts will take place in Canatara Park’s central field, which can accommodate 10,000. A large stage will be set up at the park’s north end.
Palko and Revelree business partner Ian Fader are working with a team of about a dozen to launch what they intend will be an annual festival.
Some, including a couple of the signed performers, have questioned the first-year festival’s all-male lineup, with not a single female performer. Palko said the lineup was the result of managing available acts and costs.
“We did engage with many artists who were simply unable to perform due to routing or budget constraints,” he said.
Revelree formed in 2015 with the intention of staging a big outdoor festival but the first year was cancelled with organizers blaming the weak Canadian dollar. The pandemic caused further delays.
Revelree is recruiting volunteers to help on the weekend. The intention is to give part of the proceeds back to charitable groups that volunteer, Palko said.
“Our goal is to spread as many of the proceeds as possible across as many charities. We believe this is a good thing for community.”
IF YOU GO:
WHAT: Inaugural Revelree Music Festival. Ages 19-plus.
WHEN: Friday July 22, and Saturday July 23
WHERE: Canatara Park main field
TICKETS: General admission and VIP area available for single night or weekend passes. See details at www.revelreemusicfestival.com.