Yukon’s winter music festival is back, some might say, finally. Since taking the task on in 2014, a small group of volunteers have been spending their spare time working hard to make this happen. Initially hoping to bring it back for 2015 and quickly discovering that wouldn’t be possible, the team decided to focus on a 2016 return: “whatever it took,” says treasurer/secretary Amos Scott.
What it ended up taking, aside from the commitment of a board of dedicated volunteers, was minimizing.
“We’ve really made a commitment to cutting costs,” says Scott, which means they aren’t flying musicians in from outside the territory, and they aren’t hosting any workshops.
In its first year back, Frostbite’s lineup is totally Yukon. Bands like Soul Migration, The Midnight Sons, Major Funk and the Employment, with Nicole Edwards and the Puppet Affair headlining the Sunday Kids Fest.
A number of local businesses have also reached out to help, Scott says.
This year is about Yukoners coming together to revive the festival that has defined their winter for 40 years.
“Some people would say to just start a new society,” says Scott, “But Frostbite is almost a 40-year-old society. We thought it was important to bring it back.”
Having lost its official society status, the team has had to work hard to meet the requirements to get it back. This is largely what made a 2015 relaunch impossible.
“It’s been a lot of going into offices,” Scott says.
The board does have one carryover member from before, says Scott, but the rest are newcomers, people who grew up going to the festival, whose parents went to the festival. Keeping the previous spirit of Frostbite alive is important.
And though this year won’t have the flash of big time artists that past festivals had, “we are planning to come back full scale,” Scott says.
Next year workshops will return, and, though Scott says, “we’ll still focus on the local,” he’d like to see Frostbite alumnae coming back.
Artists ranging from Fiest to Skinny Puppy to Jewel, Frostbite has seen “pretty much every Canadian musician,” Scott says.
For now, Frostbite will be focusing on some of its other traditions.
“One thing Frostbite always brought to the table is connecting the emerging artists with the established ones,” Scott says.
They’ll be wrapping up each night with a jam, with musicians of all ages playing together on the stage.
“It’s going to be a real family event,” Scott says.
To him, that’s what Frostbite was 20 years ago – something you could bring your kids to. The return of that atmosphere is important to him.
“There will be a bar,” he says, “but that’s not the focus.”
The Frostbite Music Festival runs Feb. 12-14 at the Yukon College. Tickets can be bought at the Yukon Arts Centre or at Arts Underground.
“It’s a real grassroots volunteer effort this year,” Scott says. “It’s a labour of love. We have a real commitment.”
Which, he stresses, means Frostbite is back to stay.