Big sun, big energy shape Stanfest 2019

By Helen Murphy    

Big sun, big energy shape Stanfest 2019


Helen Murphy


CANSO – Stanfest 2019 wrapped up to rave reviews Sunday night after three days of outstanding music, abundant sunshine and big crowds.

"This was a banner year," Stanfest's new Artistic Director, Chris Greencorn, told The Journal Tuesday as teardown continued.

"Attendance was strong, and that much was clear on the fields and in the campgrounds," he said. "For example, there were more people watching the main stage shows later into the night. There were also a couple daytime shows where crowds were larger than anticipated, which was good to see. Both give us the indication that some of the tweaks this year panned out all right."

He said many volunteers had lots of basic questions about the festival asked of them -- a sign of more first-timers this year.

The line-up for the 23rd edition of the Stan Rogers Folk Festival was full of youth and energy, with many sessions inspiring festival-goers to get up and dance on the grass.

"The new talent we brought in was received very, very well - and I’ve heard this from both the audiences and the artists," said Greencorn. "It’s was a bit of a risk, but the final balance was exceptionally positive.

"Our audiences are deep listeners and super engaged in what happens on the stage, which can be a stark (and welcome) change from the kind of crowds a touring musician plays to, even compared to other festivals. I think the overwhelming majority of our people are ready to embrace the kind of new takes on 'folk music' broadly defined that we put on stage this year."

The hot sun may have caught some Stanfest regulars by surprise, but they were able to unpack their cozier gear when the fog rolled in with lower temperatures for the evening mainstage shows.

Canso's Carl Bond and Chris Lumsden did their hometown proud during the perennial favourite "Singing Stan" on the mainstage Sunday afternoon.

This year's festival showcased lots of strong East Coast talent -- both returning favourites and up-and-comers, including Antigonish native T. Thomason. The 24-year-old has garnered multiple ECMA and Music Nova Scotia nominations, appeared on Degrassi, received songwriting awards and recognition as one of Canada’s Top 25 Under 25 by CBC Music.

“Being back at Stanfest this year was a fantastic experience," Thomason told The Journal Tuesday. "The audiences in Canso are always so warm and excited to listen to the performers and their stories. It’s rare to see a main stage festival audience really listening. That’s what you get at Stanfest and it is a major treat as a performer.”

The broader culture of Stanfest -- including the popular camping experience -- is also a big draw. This year Stanfest partner "A is for Adventure" made it even easier for beginners to get the camping experience.

The duo behind A is for Adventure, Chris Surette and Jan-Sebastian Lapierre, are committed to introducing more Canadians to the fun of outdoor activities, including camping; they set up their first Stanfest campground in 2018. This year, with support from Parks Canada and The North Face, they offered a complete camping experience at the festival, including hiking the Chapel Gully Trail, coastal biking, paddling and a crab boil.

Reflecting on his first year at the helm of the artistic side, Greencorn is only positive.

"It’s been a blast. Once this year is under wraps, I’ll put my feet up for a minute, but not for long - our 2020 cycle will start in September so I’m looking forward to putting together another one."