This February finds Whitehorse music aficionados scratching their heads in a manner not seen since the Trudeau administration.
After 35 years of jams and jingles, the Frostbite Music Festival will fall silent this year. But while some see disappointment, others sense an opening.
Enter Josh Paton and Marcus Steiner.
Paton is the proprietor of Epic Pizza on Lewes Blvd. in Riverdale; Steiner is a musician-about-town; and together they are creating the four-day FebFest at the aforementioned pizza joint, from February 12 to -15.
“Josh and I were just talking about the hole left by Frostbite, and we thought ‘Wwhat a great opportunity,” says Steiner, who moved here from Calgary with his band, Tthe PPL.
The decision was easy for Paton, who says.
“February is a month where people need something like this,” he says.. “They are really ready to blow off some steam.”
And so it sprouted.
The extravaganza will kick off on with Epic Pizza’s regularly scheduled Whitewater Wednesday Jam hosted by Peggy Hanifan on February 12. And Thursday will start with a showcase of youth bands hosted by the always-energetic Graeme Peters of Speed Control.
Steiner will make his first appearance at FebFest on Thursday night with his classic-rock cover band The Steiner Recliners. He’s back in action again on Friday with Paton Pending.
“It’s our fake band,” says the namesake.
Steiner is more generous with his description.
“When Josh isn’t too busy, he likes to get up there and play the drums,” he says. “I’ll be playing the guitar and he’ll come up and bang away, quite well, too, so we started calling ourselves Paton Pending.”
They will be followed on Friday by The Midnight Sons and Fish Head Stew.
FebFest wraps up on Saturday with performances by Ben Mahony, Uncle Touchy, The Mourning After, and DJKJ.
Aside: the Mourning After is another of Steiner’s projects. Is it possible to be in too many bands? He settles the issue with an enthusiastic “Hell, no.”
Paton is naturally pleased with the outpouring of support for his upstart festival, and believes it’s solid evidence of Whitehorse’s vibrant music community.
“There are so many talented musicians in this town, which is good, because there’s a really big appetite for (live music) here,” he says. “I actually had to turn people down.”
But perhaps that’s not the whole story. Maybe the music community’s enthusiasm for FebFest results partially from Paton’s ongoing efforts to provide a safe and fun venue for local performers to sing and play.
You won’t get any argument from Steiner.
“Epic Pizza has become my second home,” he says. “Josh is an easy-going guy and that brings out a good, supportive crowd.”
FebFest kicks off on Wednesday, February 12, and wraps up on Friday, February 15. Check Epic Pizza’s Facebook page at www.Ffacebook.com/GarlicNinja for information and updates.
Admission to FebFest is free, but the pizza costs money.
Peter Jickling is a Whitehorse playwright and the assistant editor of What’s Up Yukon