Introducing Fredericton’s Living Roots Music Festival

Living Roots

Five days!  More than seventy acts.  Fourteen venues (thirteen of which are within walking distance of each other).  This year’s edition of the Living Roots Music Festival, the ninth to be exact, may have been the most ambitious one yet!  Headliners included Union Duke, Greg MacPherson, Andrea Ramolo, as well as local favourites Marian.  Simply put, downtown Fredericton, NB comes alive for the duration of this festival! 

Much of the magic behind the festival resides in its organization.  The scheduling is done in such a way that it is easy to maximize the number of shows that you can take in without fear of missing out on the bands that you really want to see.  The venues of varying sizes are all situated within a few blocks of one another.  By the time that the festival has hit its stride, the community feeling has really set in. Familiar faces are seen on the sidewalk while walking from show to show.  Smiles and waves are exchanged.  New friendships are born! 

Collaborations often take place at Living Roots Music Festival.  Members of A Sea of Gold and Burgundy joined Bryce Clifford & Brother Brisco on stage this year.  That was a magical moment for the listeners who were present and a personal highlight.  Our little downtown area overflows with talent during the festival. It can simply be felt! 

Andrea Ramolo

At a cost of $70, a festival pass is a real bargain.  In fact, main organizer Eddie Young has often stated publicly that he would refund the full cost of a pass to anyone who didn’t enjoy their experience.  Having attended nearly every edition of the festival in one way or another, I can confirm that I have yet to hear of any refunds being made.  There truly is something for everyone. While much of the festival features folk, Americana, and singer-songwriter acts, Young isn’t afraid to push those boundaries. Punk and indie rock bands frequently make appearances as well. 

The festival has become a recurring destination for many touring artists.  For example, Toronto’s Black Suit Devil (who will be featured in a subsequent article) has now graced us with his presence for five of the nine editions.  He describes the Fredericton music scene as being a real eye opener for him.  “Eddie Young was one of, if not the very first person that embraced the music that I make as Black Suit Devil.  In turn, that gave me the boost in confidence that I needed to push my career a step further. This place, this festival, they’ve got it!”  I will add that Black Suit Devil has become a personal favourite, which goes well beyond the music!  Andy Du Rego is one of the kindest, generous and hardworking artists that I have the privilege to know. 

Living Roots

Volunteers also play a big part in the success of Living Roots.  Working a single shift gives you access to a day pass.  Two or more shifts?  A full festival pass!  It’s a win-win for everyone involved. This year’s edition counted on approximately fifteen volunteers to provide services such as working at the door or helping with basic sound setups.  Their involvement can’t be understated! As an artist myself, the little extras set this festival apart.  Festival organizers enlisted the help of students from the Atlantic College of Therapeutic Massage to provide free massages to artists during one of the days of the festival.  A local tattoo artist was also made available at Broken Record Bar & Music Room, one of the festival venues, and provided his services at an affordable cost.   

On a professional level, a networking event took place on Saturday morning at The Abbey Café & Gallery, where discussions revolved around the current state of live music.  Snacks and coffee were provided by Mitch Biggar, owner of Folk’d Up Radio and Folk’d Up Records.  The event was well attended, and many new connections were made as a result.  It’s this attention to detail that makes this festival a true destination for artists regionally and beyond. 

Living Roots

It would be impossible to conclude this article without once again mentioning its organizer and the people that assist him.  As previously stated, Eddie Young is the festival’s organizer.  He is assisted by Justine Tremblay.  A board has also recently been established.  It consists of local Americana artist Colin Fowlie along with Genevieve Macrae and LA Henry.  When asked about what his highlights were from this year’s edition, Young is quick to mention performances by local Jason Anderson at the Cinnamon Café, K-Man & the 45s, Greg MacPherson, and Andrea Ramolo. 

What will the future hold for the Living Roots Music Festival?  Young’s hopes are to build some more on this year’s successes.  “The small alternative venues did well!  We’ll look at exploring that even further.  We also started showcasing other art disciplines such as visual arts, tattoos, literature and poetry.  That’s something else that we’re looking to build on.”  As for me?  I’m already counting the days until I get to see my musical friends and extended family once again. 

Team GDW are incredibly grateful to guest contributor Ollie LeBlanc (Fredericton, NB), who brings us the first installment of a small series of features covering the recent Living Roots Music Festival (June 5-9, 2024). We also extend our gratitude to our good friend Andy Du Rego (Black Suit Devil), for connecting us with Ollie and planting the seeds for GDW collaborations. Please join us in thanking and congratulating Ollie for this wonderful debut and check back for more Living Roots Music Festival coverage from Ollie very soon.  

Photo Credits: Ollie LeBlanc / Eddie Young / Festival Website (Poster) 

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