Sioux Mountain Music Festival moving online as part of 38th Sioux Lookout Blueberry Festival
Tim Brody - Editor
The Sioux Mountain Music Festival is moving online this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Presented by the Nishnawbe-Gamik Friendship Centre, Sioux Lookout Multi Cultural Youth Centre bands, local area bands and northern bands, along with solo performers, will be taking part in the online music festival which will be headlined by former Sioux Lookout singer/songwriter Nick Sherman.
The event will be held on August 2 from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Program Coordinator Tommy Kuzemczak said taking the music festival online was not a decision that was taken lightly, “There was a lot of thought and consideration that went into ensuring we can keep everyone involved safe and healthy. In talking with my supervisor and Executive Director, Jenn Thomas from the Nishnawbe-Gamik Friendship Centre in the spring, I was told that due to COVID-19 I had to think outside the box for the Sioux Lookout Multi Cultural Youth Music Program’s operations. The first thing I did was put the majority of my guitar students in online classes. Then I started to think about whether or not the Sioux Mountain Music Festival would survive this summer.”
With music festivals across Ontario being cancelled this summer, Kuzemczak said his music students wanted to find a way for the Sioux Mountain Music Festival to go forward.
“I was not sure how to pull it off. With this pandemic still here and no vaccination around I started to think of either a Drive-In or an Online Festival. To ensure we were compliant with the public health orders and keeping public safety a top priority, we decided against the Drive-in Festival and moved toward the initial planning of an online venue. If we could figure out how to do it safely then let’s, make it happen.”
Kuzemczak explained that health and safety was the top priority when planning the online music festival, “In preparation of a possible festival and ensuring our students were safe when accessing the Youth Centre, even after this pandemic, I was directed to utilize Plexiglass to change the Multi Cultural Youth Stage so there would be Plexiglass between all of the performers while onstage. With the limited number of people being allowed in the main Youth Centre at a time, we talked about the possibility of utilizing the entrance of the Centennial Centre as a wellness checkpoint in which performers would complete COVID-19 screening, be provided with PPE and have access to hand sanitization before they could enter the building. If there were no concerns following the initial COVID-19 screening, musicians could proceed to the Green Room where they would comfortably and safely wait for their scheduled set time. There could be interviews of the Bands and Solo artists while waiting in the Green Room, an open area where a Band or Solo Performer could relax and wait for the Performance in the Main Youth Centre downstairs to complete their performance, a place where we could ensure social distancing for performers as well. Once the performance downstairs is completed the performers would exit out the back door and the staff could sterilize the venue. At that point, the performers in the Green Room could proceed down to the stage and get started. There will be the Main Stage and a Small Solo Stage in a separate area of the Youth Centre. At all times Social Distancing MUST be observed. We also talked about Skype and Pre-Recorded Videos for the Festival. Upon developing this plan and (after) presenting this information to the Nishnawbe-Gamik Friendship Centre Board of Directors the Festival was approved.”
Kuzemczak stressed that “Social distancing will be observed at ALL TIMES. It will ALWAYS be a clean sterile environment. There will be a Sound Crew, a Video Crew, Performers and Sterilizing Staff.”
Kuzemczak is hoping for a large audience, “The Performers will not have visual of the audience, but the audience will see the performers. And the more the merrier! The bigger the audience the better the Festival! Anybody can watch the Festival on August 2, 2020. From Fort Severn to London, Ontario. From Sioux Lookout to Quebec City. From Big Trout Lake to Tel Aviv, it does not matter as this is the World Wide Web that anyone can tune into. We want everybody to watch the Festival this year.
This year’s list of artists includes: Serena Saudino, The Edwards Brothers, Michael Laverty, Dan Fraser, Sagatay from Big Trout Lake, Rez Metal, Sticks n Strings, True North, Rainbow Clan, Bloodline, Variable Pitch, Hot Mess, Jeff Hindy Project, Luke Warm and the Cold Ones, Cheapside, the Opera Blue and this year’s Sioux Mountain Online Music Festival Headliner will be Nick Sherman.”
People can find out more by visiting The Sioux Mountain online Music Festival 2020 on Facebook.