By Tora Matys
The Rock and Roll Society of Edmonton (RRSE) has officially announced that their annual Rock Fest is a go for the summer of 2021.
Rock Fest will be held Saturday, August 14, at the Edmonton Exhibition Lands Racetrack.
Melanie Kidder, the current President of the RRSE, said this year’s Rock Fest will be slightly different than previous years with a new location, and with the help of Trixstar, will have the same setup as the Together Again Concert Series.
“We had to have a place secured that we knew that no matter what was happening with COVID, we would be approved to sell as many tickets as we needed to raise money for the [Centre for Arts & Music (CAM)],” said Kidder.
“Hawrelak park, unfortunately, is very limited, and we are looking forward to restrictions being lifted on July 1st, but that doesn’t mean they’re still going to be lifted in August. We just don’t know. So we had to go to a larger venue this year, and we went down from a two day festival to one day.”
For the last 10 years, Rock Fest has not only acted as the main fundraiser for the Rock and Roll Society but as well as a big opportunity for the CAM students to perform in front of a large audience.
“We are just really excited to be able to actually have our 10th anniversary Rock Fest, and see all of our wonderful patrons again, get back together with everyone and listen to some good music. We are mostly excited to see our [CAM] students on stage again because they have actually not performed in front of people since November 2019,” said Kidder.
The Centre for Arts & Music program is a charity run by the Rock and Roll Society that offers at-risk and inner-city youth an opportunity to learn not only musical skills but also teamwork and soft skills. The CAM program teaches kids how to play an instrument, function as a band, and perform in live settings.
“We offer this program in neighbourhoods where there could be vulnerable youth, and we offer it out of the schools so that way the students can get to it easily. That’s why we also work with Edmonton Public and Edmonton Catholic schools to offer our program,” said Kidder.
“It’s free for any [child] interested in attending, and we try to make it as accessible as possible.”
The pop-punk band, Buspass, is one of the many CAM bands playing during Rock Fest. They’re no strangers to live performances and can be seen performing at pubs and bars around the city, but performing at the festival offers a special experience for all the students.
“It’s nice because we have this huge audience and it’s more fun than the small bar gigs. [Performing] is so meaningful either way, but to just have that experience of a huge crowd who [doesn’t] know you, it’s just a lot of fun,” said drummer Xavier.
Before any CAM bands can get on the line-up, they need to show to their mentors they are dedicated and willing to practice regularly. Mentors for CAM sit-in on practices and give the bands tips on stage presence and performing.
“Having the mentors […] with us at practice is really helpful in keeping us focused. It’s really helpful for them to sit there and just watch and give us critiques or whatever they have to do,” said Xavier.
“Being with CAM and [having] the opportunity to actually perform at Rock Fest or another big concert, it’s really helpful for us as a band, and as performers to have that experience to perform live.”
Buspass is also currently working on their next step as a group and is heading into the recording studio this summer with hopes to release an original single or two by the end of the year. Check out @buspass_official on Instagram to be the first to hear their new music.
To purchase tickets to the 10th Rock Fest, visit their website.