“Frostbite used to see bands play … and then you would see them play on the world stage,” says Patrick Singh, Frostbite Festival’s new producer and general manager. Then he lists them: Sarah McLachlan, k.d. Lang, Feist, Moxy Fruvous. They all appeared before they became big names. “We used to have that reputation.”
Since then, Frostbite has experimented with downtown locations and alternative music, and the results have not approached the glory years of the festival that is now 31 years old.
“We are not rebuilding,” says Singh, from his lonely office in the Chambers House, the only inhabited house in Shipyards Park. “We are coming back to what we know. The festival is like having a good party.”
Although the flavour leans to roots, there has actually been a wide variety of acts booked. Singh spools out another list: “Blues, rock, reggae, rockabilly, singer-songwriter, punk, alternative rock, jazz and classical … I guess, in a way.”
They have been dispersed to either the Yukon Arts Centre or Yukon College based on if they are quieter and enjoyed best by just listening (YAC) or if they are high-energy bands made for dancing (Yukon College). As well, there will be the Café Degélé in the Student Union Lounge.
“It will be very cool, very hip,” says Singh. “A cool jazz environment for that sultry sound.”
Singh leans back in his chair. “Sultry,” he says again. “I like that word. It suits the café.” Unfortunately, Singh didn’t start this job until late October. “That’s not a lot of time, no,” he says today. “It was a challenge … an excellent challenge.”
He explains: “I love the field of music. I owned a bar, I’ve been in bands, I own a music shop. “I feel that Frostbite has been in a transition stage. I really love this festival; it is one of the best in Canada. “It just needs a little push … in the right direction.”
He says possibly Sourdough Rendezvous and the Frostbite Festival can team up for a “Music Week” with one leading into the other. Then there is the Nakai Pivot Festival. He says this is something that can be promoted to the world very easily. But, first, he has to survive this year with not a lot of time to pull it all together. Fortunately, he says, Eric Epstein became the artistic director in November.
“Eric Epstein is amazing,” says Singh. “This guy knows his stuff.
“With more time next year, it’s amazing to think about what he can do.”
For this year, he has signed up Wax Mannequin, Roxanne Potvin, Daddy Roy, the Amos Garrett Trio and others. There are local bands, too, such as Nicholas Mah, Kate Weekes, Crash the Car, Nicole Edwards and Singh’s own band, Sasquatch Prom Date. But these acts will be heard on a big stage with excellent sound, says Singh, instead of the more intimate settings they usually appear in.
Weekend passes are available for $75 each — “That’s cheap!” says Singh. “If you want to see Amos Garret Outside it will cost you $20 for one show” — at Yukon Arts Centre, Arts Underground and Mark and Paddy’s Wondrous Music Emporium.
Only 500 passes will be sold. The Frostbite Festival will be Feb. 13 to 15.
Singh says volunteers are needed and are greatly appreciated. Anyone interested is asked to call 668-4921 or send an e-mail to email@example.com.