Amanda Dawn Christie


Soaking in Sappy Fest
“One of the top three must see festivals in Canada this summer”
Published in [HERE] Magazine, Summer 2008

Why sit around listening to more of the same-old-same-old mainstream music, when you could be soaking yourself in sweet Sappy musical bliss for three sopping days of succulent song-filled synchronicities?  Indie rock fans are gearing up for what the Globe and Mail lists as of one of the top three must see festivals in Canada this summer. 

For those of you indie music aficionados sitting on the cutting edge of your seats, Sappy Fest is “ a chance to come and see all the bands that you’ll be hearing about in years to come, before they make it big, not only local bands, but also bands from across Canada and the US”, says Paul Henderson.  This is the biggest music festival in the province of New Brunswick, and one of the biggest in all of Atlantic Canada, with over 60 bands performing over three days.

Sappy Fest is owned and operated by Paul Henderson, John Claytor, and Julie Doiron. “The idea for Sappy Fest started as a small backyard friends-only event,” explains Claytor, “but then it grew and snowballed into a full on three day public festival before the first one even happened.” Paul Henderson expands on the Sappy story by adding that, “In 2004, Struts Gallery did the Last Chance for Summer Romance concert.  It was just a one evening outdoor concert and barbecue.  That grew into the OK, Quoi?! Festival -- a weeklong contemporary media art festival culminating in an outdoor concert.  The following year, Sappy Fest was born in conjunction with OK,Quoi?!”  Now, Sappy Fest and the Ok,Quoi?! Festival of Contemporary Media Art, take place at and in the same time and space; intertwined with each other like symbiotic parasites or lascivious lovers.

If you come to Sappy Fest, Henderson says that you can expect to see wide and eclectic variety of “Bands, that if you haven’t heard of already, you will have heard of them by this time next year”.  In addition to cutting edge indie rock music, the line up is eclectic enough that there is guaranteed to be something for everyone.  Just to give you a taste of the variety you can expect, there will be performances by: kalimba musician Laura Barret; hip hop artist Thesis; banjo musician Old Man Luedecke; experimental guitarist Eric Chenaux; dance group Mouse & Man; and electro-raver-punk group Think About Life.

The upcoming Sappy Fest also includes four acts from this year’s Polaris longlist -- The Acorn, Christine Fellows, Attack in Black, and Sandro Perri – as well as three acts from last year’s Polaris shortlist -- Julie Doiron, Miracle Fortress, and Chad Van Gaalen --  (the Polaris Prize is the new $20, 000 award in independent music, similar to the Mercury prize in England).  Many music fans will also be thrilled to hear that Eric’s Trip will be playing at Sappy and there will be a screening of a full-length documentary about Eric’s Trip that was recently created by Rick White.

In addition to all of the music concerts, there are also a few Record and & Craft Fair Farmers’ Markets as well as a Kids Corner Power Jam where, “the kids actually learn to be do it yourself indie rockers; they learn to write, record, make t-shirts, and perform” according to Claytor.

One of the best parts of Sappy Fest is that “you’re gonna go and watch your favourite band play, then you’ll go to Mel’s and have a burger and they’ll be in the next booth.” Claytor explains,  “There’s not a huge division between the artists and the fans; they kind of tend to be the same people; it’s as much about going to Mel’s diner, and bowling, and the swan pond, and Duckies; it’s as much about just living and being in Sackville as it is about the music.”

For people traveling (and fans have been known to travel from as far as Australia to attend this festival), there’s plenty of camping and Henderson describes it is as “a perfect hipster vacation […] a folk fest for indie rockers with a small town family friendly vibe”

Claytor adds that “Kids are welcome and they can run around and play in the road.  There will be plenty of kids activities.  It’s a great place to come with your family, have a beer, and see some music.  Or if you’re a hipster, come and meet your future partner. (Last year’s slogan, was ‘Come and Start Your Family at Sappy Fest’).”  This year’s slogan, however, is “Lovers always Lose. Suck it Up.”  And what better place to suck up the sap than a music festival?

You can find more information on the schedule, tickets, passes and musical acts on the Sappy Fest website,





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