Hot takes: Our Editor Shares His Thoughts on Chester Fest
Updated: May 13
by Scott Roos
pics by Deanna Roos
*editor's note: instead of slapping together and article with cleverly curated quotes in a "wash rinse repeat" format, I tried to just share some of my initial impressions of Chester Fest now that it's in my rearview mirror. Hope you enjoy!
The relocation to the Prince Albert Exhibition grounds this year was very convenient for people living within the Prince Albert city limits. It seemed like they had more space than the previous venue at HOP Youth Place and having an indoor stage further away from the main stage this year was a bonus. It gave us somewhere to escape the rain from so the show could go on and also flush toilets!
The artists seem to really enjoy their time at Chester Fest and I think that’s largely due to the fact that the principal members of the board are all musicians themselves in some way shape or form. Speaking of which, it’s very telling of the respect that Julie Watt, Joel Rohs and Kayanna Wirtz garner in the community when The Bush Pies, the band that all three of them are in, draw a bigger crowd of dancers to the front of the main stage than any act that played that same stage at the festival.
The strength of the festival has always been in their ability to give brand new artists opportunity and up and coming artists the chance to develop and grow their sets. The youth showcase and the battle of the bands winners are a testament to this philosophy. The festival also books emerging acts like Seven Mile Sun, Velours, Last Birds and The North Sound who are slowly but surely beginning to make their mark in the province. And locally Patrick Moon Bird, Ray of Sunshine and Friends, among others, all got their chance to do their thing.
*Ray of Sunshine and Patrick Moon Bird - local Prince Albert talent (pic by Deanna Roos)
*Nevada and Forrest of the North Sound and Seven Mile Sun - performers to watch in SK right now (pics by Deanna Roos)
Continuing on the subject of booking, holy f*ck has Megan Nash ever evolved into a LEGIT headliner. Megan wasn’t even supposed to be on this year’s bill but when the Northern Pikes had to cancel, she was there. It’s very obvious that being able to gig again has enabled her to further hone her craft. A Great songwriter and uber talented performer, she’s given a five star performance every time I’ve seen her. Also, Scenic Route to Alaska kicked ass and took names. Those guys were very enjoyable.
Special shoutout to Oscar’s Hollow for their fantastically soulful set on the after hours stage. These guys had been in orbit around the zine for quite some time so I’m super glad I got to finally see them live. WOW! Thanks for the music guys.
To conclude, for each of the three installments of Chester Fest, it’s evident that their “boutique” quality of having the couches to repose on and their small town charm in how they treat the artists they book has enabled organizers to develop some street cred. I’d say that Chester Fest is definitely moving in the direction of becoming one of the summer’s “destination” festivals and that’s a great thing for Prince Albert.