The Passion Project of Local Music Promotion

For many, nothing compares to the experience of live music, getting to see that favourite band or discovering a love for a new and unexpected artist.

It can be easy to overlook what goes on behind the scenes of concerts, house shows and bar performances in the local music scene. But behind nearly every one of these are people working away, usually in addition to day jobs, fuelled by their passion for bringing live music to the masses.

Eddie Young is the owner of Roots & Soul Music Promotions. He says he got involved in the business three years ago when he began hosting shows in his home. He’s always had a passion for music and has been aiming to make the local scene in Fredericton more vibrant.

“We had a great music scene around Fredericton,” Young said. “You could go out anywhere and anybody could be playing, the place would be packed. Everybody having fun. I was away in Ontario for a few years and I came back and it just seemed like it died right out.”

Young’s main business is organizing shows at Grimross Brewing in Fredericton. He also represents a number of local artists.

“I moved the shows up to mainly Grimross Brewery uptown because they have a space,” he said. “As far as business goes, they open up the space and allow me to present shows. They sell some beer. I do a cover charge now with a percentage that goes back to the bands and I usually split a percentage with usually a local opener. The headline act will get whatever, 75 per cent, and then I split the remainder with the local opener.”

Young says while he’s mostly been running at a loss with shows up to this point, things have begun to pick up. He’s now gearing up for the second year of Living Roots Festival (running May 24 to 27), an event that grew from his business and now incorporates shows at nine venues around town.

Since music promotion is not a pursuit that seems easy to make a profit from, at least in smaller cities, those who pursue it tend to be in it for the love of live music, like Saint John-based Cole Savoie.

Savoie started organizing shows as part of a band when some his band mates were not of age and couldn’t play bar venues.

“I started booking shows so my bands and friends’ bands could play more shows around town,” he said. “After a while when bands from out of town would come through, people would just refer them to me and I would see what I could do.”

“There are always bands looking to play and if I can help out, why not? Goal-wise, hopefully, the local scene just keeps growing. I want to see more people out at local shows. A solid all-age venue would be really cool as well.”

Music promoter and Fredericton Tourism blogger Emma Chevarie has taken it upon herself to help spread the word about the goings on in the local music scene. With her website, Music Runs Through It, Chevarie gathers as much information as she can find about performances in the area into one handy place.

Chevarie first became involved in promoting 14 years ago when she was asked to be a Fredericton point person for the St. Andrews-based Paddlefest festival. She continues to work a full-time job in addition to the music promotion business, which is now mostly focused on the two shows a month she organizes at Corked Wine Bar.

“It’s an early show,” she said. “It’s been really interesting just to be involved and view what’s going on and try to listen to people and what they want. There’s a whole demographic that didn’t want to go to shows that started at 11 o’clock at the Capital so that’s what I’m trying to fill.”

Chevarie says because of the size of Corked as a venue, which has a capacity of 50 people, she focuses mostly on bringing in singer-songwriters to perform. She hopes soon to secure a larger venue for around 125 people that will serve as a sort of middle ground between venues like The Playhouse and the Capital Complex.

Chevarie believes in the economic value of a vibrant local music scene and that there should be more of a focus on adding and improving local venues.

“It’s not just a hobby. There’s a lot of money that’s attached. The economics of music in the city… Harvest is a prime example, Shivering Songs. It brings everybody out and they go out to restaurants and get the drinks,” she said.

“It makes the city more vibrant so it’s to really start to acknowledge that and invest in those areas, to look at what we need and venues is one [of those] things.”