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New city festival lands Hip frontman Gord Downie

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Gord Downie is joining the revolution.

The lead singer and lyricist of Canadian superband The Tragically Hip is coming to Sarnia to headline a new festival celebrating all that’s good in our community.

“We know he’ll be a good fit,” says Chris Lewis, organizer with the second Festival of Good Things on the city’s waterfront Aug. 30.

“It’s pretty cool. We’re already getting really good feedback from our sponsors,” Lewis said. “We know Sarnia is going to like it and Sarnia is going to respond well.”

Lewis is a board member with Storyboard Cultural Community Endeavours, a group of 20-and-30-somethings who launched The Festival of Good Things in 2013 on Labour Day Weekend to “promote good work and the good people of Lambton County.”

It’s called a revolution because it’s a movement focused on the positive, Lewis told The Journal.

In its first year, the festival adjacent to Sarnia Bay Marina attracted 2,000 people and a large outdoor crowd to see Joel Plaskett Emergency.

Plaskett connected with the audience with an eclectic mix of blues, folk and rock. Downie, as a solo act, is represented by the same agent and plays a similar mix of genres. When festival organizers began looking for this year’s headliner they discussed Downie “but thought he was out of our range,” admitted Lewis.

However, the negotiations went well and Downie will play The Festival of Good Things with the Toronto-based band The Sadies.

“Festival of Good Things is about grassroots, Canadiana and indie music,” Lewis said.

“Gord without the Hip is folk, grassroots, as well as rock, so it works. We’re already miles ahead of where we were last year.”

Downie has been doing solo projects for some time, backed by The Country of Miracles. He just released his fourth solo album on April 15, this time with The Sadies.

And The Conquering Sun has garnered rave reviews.  The Sadies seem to have renewed Downie’s energy, said one critic, adding the old electricity of his early performances with The Hip has returned.

Prior to the evening’s headline act, The Festival of Good Things features a full day of free live bands, workshops with the talents of local people, a kidszone, a wakeboarding championship, and a new handmade market.


WHAT: Festival of Good Things, with headliner Gord Downie, The Sadies, and The Conquering Sun.

WHEN: Saturday, August 30, 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.

WHERE: Sarnia Bay Marina

TICKETS:  On sale starting April 25 at 10 a.m. $40 advance, $50 at the door. Visit .

– Cathy Dobson

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