Little Festivals on the Prairies Part Three: MooseFest (August 7th, 2021)
Updated: May 16
*MooseFest coordinators Mark Poppen and Joel Gaudet
"(At a music festival) Everybody's there for the same reason and everybody's having a good time because of that reason. It's kind of a celebration of music,” said MooseFest Event Coordinator Mark Poppen in a recent conversation with NSMZ.
Poppen had been wanting to start a festival of his own for quite some time now. By day, the mild-mannered president of Funky Moose Audio Inc, by night the engaging co-host of “The Sit Down Podcast” along with friend and festival co-coordinator Joel Gaudet, Poppen essentially lives and breathes music. Born and raised in The Netherlands, Poppen’s father worked at a local radio stations o he often got to hang around with musicians, bands, and solo artists of various ilk. A deep appreciation of all things music developed organically.
“I was hanging around a radio studio ever since I was a kid. When I got older I actually got into radio myself, hosted a few radio shows, and did mostly behind the scenes. I set up the web streams for the radio station and stuff like that. There was always music happening around me. I always had the radio on,” explained Poppen,”I think it doesn't matter what kind of mood you're in, if you have music on it'll always, in my opinion anyway, it'll always make it better. Of course if you're sad and you listen to melodramatic music it might not help. But if you're in a bad mood and you crank up the music that you enjoy the most, for me anyway, it'll get me out of that mood. Not a day goes by that I don't play music."
Throughout his musical journey he also developed a keen appreciation for music festivals as well. "I've been admiring the festival life in Holland ever since I was a kid and I always said 'I want to do something like that',” continues Poppen.
Gaudet and Poppen had been toying with the idea of starting their own festival as an extension of what they already do as part of their wildly successful ‘The Sit Down” podcast. Throughout the course of time that the guys spend with artists on their show, they provide a stream of consciousness style dialogue that takes the pressure off the artist. It’s a refreshing change of pace compared to most interview styles where things can be fact heavy and intellectual, putting the artist in a situation where they feel like they are “working”. Many of the artists that are guests on The Sit Down enjoy the relaxed vibe that Poppen and Gaudet bring to the table. As a result, the guys have developed lasting friendships with many of the artists that appear on their show. One of them, Earl Pereira of The Steadies, suggested, with restrictions being lifted July 11th, that the guys finally get around to starting the festival they had been talking about.
"Mark and Joel came to a show that I was playing at and they started bringing up the idea that they wanted to do something like a festival one day. They never really felt like it would be this summer because at that point it felt so far away. This was still in the spring/winter and I started feeling like once you started seeing the numbers go down and the vaccines roll up I was getting a sense that things would open up. I didn't think that things would open up as much and as fast as they have right now but I started booking things. Me and our manager started anticipating outdoor stuff. Let's get some shows on the board. And I started getting messages from promoters around western Canada asking about us being available for possible dates and I started to string things together so I kinda pushed the guys on the festival idea a bit. I said 'we got asked to do a big festival date here, which I can't announce right now unfortunately, and I said 'all the guys are gonna be down. We've got a Regina show and then the 7th is open' and I said 'it would be great to put on a show that night and what better than if you guys put on a festival' like they were talking about months before and that's all they needed to hear. And they were like 'yup we're gonna do this' and they booked a hall and it became a thing," Pereira explained.
With The Steadies on board it was only a matter of time before Gaudet and Poppen, via their proverbial rolodex full of past The Sit Down guests, were able to flesh out the billing and add Seven Mile Sun and League of Wolves. MooseFest will start small with the intent on growing things in future editions down the road.
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*The Steadies photo by Kate Matthews
*League of Wolves, photo by Andre Varty
*Seven Mile Sun photo by Will Yannacoulias
“The feedback we've been getting from not only from the bands we will have on stage but also the bands that we've been talking to ever since makes us believe that next year we can go bigger," added Poppen.
The festival will take place at Bellevue Community Hall this Saturday, August 7th with doors opening at 6:30 and the show set to start at 7:30 pm. Camping that is walking distance for the venue is available via 28 powered sites on a first come first served basis at $20. Tickets for the festival can be purchased here: https://www.moosefestsk.ca