Paris Pick and Aiden Tentrees seem to be everywhere these days. They’re both in multiple constantly active and well-known bands, and they both often act as mentors to some of the Yukon’s younger, emerging artists. For the last five years, the local music power couple and some other artistic friends have also been putting on an ever-growing annual DIY festival out of their own home, dubbed Greasefest.
Though Pick says the inaugural Greasefest was born out of a conversation that took place “mostly as a joke,” in 2017, she, Tentrees and some friends celebrated 420 that year with a small house concert that featured at-the-time emerging artists John Stosh, Clairvoyant Felicities and the Sputnik Experiment, and also included the live debuts of DJ Sac o Dope and Pick and Tentrees’ own group, Swamp Sex Robots.
“The crowd was overwhelmed with excitement as they were seeing bands that had maybe only ever performed a handful of shows, as well as artists that were literally debuting totally new acts,” Pick remembers. “Sometimes, in Whitehorse the music scene feels a little bit saturated with the same music, so it felt good to change it up and show some music that was more seldom seen.”
After a successful kickoff, the group behind the house concert talked further about making Greasefest an annual event, always with a mission of showcasing the less frequently seen Yukon acts in an alternative setting that placed substance over style.
“We were going to push the boundaries of what a house concert on a private property could accomplish,” says Pick.
Some of the influences behind Greasefest were other DIY festivals, namely FestFest, which no longer happens, Popechella, which takes place near Whitehorse every second year and FarmFest, a free festival in B.C. run by Carolyn Mark, which serves to bring people together just for the fun of it.
This year, Pick was successful in securing funding though Yukon Tourism and Cultures On Yukon Time: Great Yukon Summer to take Greasefest to the next level, which also means it will be a more public event this time around—but will still have a strict capacity to keep things manageable, as it is still on private property.
When Greasefest first started, neither Pick nor anybody else thought it would grow into what it has. For now, Greasefest is operating at as large a capacity as it can due to its location, but the team has not ruled out the possibility of eventually moving it to a different spot to allow it to become even bigger and accommodate even more artists and fans.
“I guess we just saw it as a yearly party for our friends,” says Pick. “Each year our friends would ask if they could bring a plus one and we would allow it. It was mostly just a wholesome time.”
In keeping things wholesome and preserving the good vibes Greasefest works so hard to maintain, Pick has found she sometimes has to stress certain rules. She has no problem being blunt about them, and says her personal favourite rule which she still stands by is ““if you’re the kind of person who likes to snort mountains of blow and fight people, don’t come to Greasefest.” Because the festival started as a small house concert for just a group of friends, Pick is committed to staying true to these values Greasefest was built on.
“Our festival is here to create a fun, safe, encouraging and empowering environment for our attendees who range from all backgrounds and all ages,” she says.
One thing that makes Greasefest important in the local music community is the fact that it doesn’t take place in a bar, as so many live music events do. Without being in a bar, Greasefest is able to be an all-ages show and the DIY aspect brings a different sense of community.
“I admire the hard work and efforts of the folks who have been doing something along these lines and cultivating something cool and different such as Wonderhorse Festival, Paradise Music Festival, Theatre in the Bush, Arts in the Park, Available Light Film Festival, Simapalooza and more,” Pick says. “I think all these events help shake things up and add some dimensions to our already awesome music and arts scene and it would be noticeably more boring if they didn’t exist at all.”
It was a long time in the making because of multiple COVID-related delays, but Greasefest: Year of the Grease kicks off on October 2 at noon. Tickets can be purchased for $45 through Eventbrite, and a strict capacity of 200 guests will be imposed. A percentage of ticket sales will be donated to the volunteer-run Goldenhorn Fire Depot.
The lineup for this year will feature Diamond Dino, Groanboy, Antarticus, Sarah Hamilton, Maddie Traplin, Nicholas Mah, Clout Game, DJ Sweet Jones, Plant Daddy, The Bleeders, Shotgun!, Patrick Keenan, John Stosh, Case 235, John from Dawson & Nitpik, I’m in love with Mary Jane, Peter Jickling, Beverly, Ben Mahony, Bon Che, Victoria Parker, Mr.Bigly, Nice Guy Eli, DJ Stanky Hank as Parsnii Boii and more. The festival has also received external support from local sponsors such as The Yukon Arts Centre, CJUC Whitehorse Community Radio, Kirsty Wells Tattoo, and Midnight Sun Coffee Roasters.