Fest Forward gives artists an extra push

Nine artists will perform at the Charlotte Streets Art Centre as part of a music festival made to help New Brunswick musicians flourish.

The music festival, called Fest Forward, was created to teach emerging artists business skills and give them an opportunity to showcase their talents in front of a new audience.

Saint John musician Catherine Kennedy attends Acadia University to study music therapy. She’s excited to learn about the business side of music and connect with other artists at Fest Forward.

“I just feel like I don’t have a super strong connection with music in New Brunswick and so I’m just really excited to grow connections with people here and musicians here,” Kennedy said.

The Crossroad Devils were one of the showcasing artists at last year’s Fest Forward. (Submitted by Luke Perrin/Charlotte Street Arts Centre)

Eva George, the ArtReach program director at the Charlotte Street Arts Centre, organized Fest Forward. She said it’s made to be a safe learning environment where artists can learn about the music business together.

“It’s an opportunity for folks to have formal information sessions on things like social media management, how to get paid, how to negotiate, how to treat your music business as a business,” she said.

This year, there will be nine showcasing artists including Amy Stone & The Veneers, Catherine Kennedy, CA Jackson, Chill Teens, Heat $heets, Jaguar Knight, McKinley Morrison & Williams, Melonvine and Skinny Leigh.

Fest Forward participants will record a demo track, have professional band photos taken, participate in professional development workshops and receive a slot to play at an East Coast music festival.

The band Les MoonTunes participated in last year’s Fest Forward. They said their experience contributed to their music career.

“I think it gave us an introduction to the music industry. We weren’t too familiar with every resource or kind of how things worked,” said Monica Ouellette, the trumpeter in the band.

[Fest Forward] was really awesome to help us kind of see what’s out there and how can you reach out to get it.”

Miguel Dumaine is from the band Les MoonTunes. He plays piano and does vocals. (Submitted by Luke Perrin/Charlotte Street Arts Centre)

George said she hopes Fest Forward helps musicians kickstart their career.

“I really love that we live in this place where you don’t hear a lot of people crap-talking other bands,” she said.

“We’re all about supporting each other and relying on each other . . . [I hope the bands] take [Fest Forward] seriously but also not take it too seriously, and also just feel lucky that they’re part of this awesome, amazing community of musicians and bands.”

The showcases take place Nov. 17 and 18 at 7:30 p.m. in the Charlotte Street Arts Centre auditorium.

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