Flourishing from a young age

When the snow melts and exams are over, FLOURISH Festival will return for its fifth year with new music and art. It’s one of the few times of year when people under 19 can see live music in pop-up locations around Fredericton.

FLOURISH is a music and arts festival that started in 2014 as a school project when Jane Blanchard was in her second year at the University of New Brunswick’s Renaissance College. Blanchard and her co-director, Stefan Westner, have come together every year since to present shows and art installations at various locations around Fredericton.

Music had a big impact on Blanchard’s life growing up. She thinks having access to live music is important for young musicians – and young people.

“I don’t think I would be playing music or be an artist if it weren’t for all-ages venues … especially all-ages venues that have local bands playing in them,” said Blanchard.

Blanchard said they want to make spaces for young folks to play and participate in their festival.

“Without these all-ages venues you aren’t really able to play shows as a person who’s under 19,” said Blanchard.

FLOURISH Festival will take place from April 25 to 28. (Photo Adam Travis)

There are two high school bands playing this year’s FLOURISH, and Blanchard said they’re still looking for more people under 19 to showcase.

Shady Jane is a high school band who will be opening for well-known Fredericton-band Motherhood at the Charlotte Street Arts Centre. Joining them on the bill will be Ontario-based VERSA, and United States-bands And the Kids and Carinae.

“I like to think we’re giving opportunity to younger bands to kind of play with these big bands,” said Blanchard.

Frooti Toot-e is another high school band playing an all-age show with Bleum, Property and Terminal at Shiftwork Studio.

Rachael Kinney, 17, started Frooti Toot-e with a few friends from Fredericton High School in September. They’re a three-piece band with a self-described genre of comedy and pop. They dress up in costumes, have choreographed dance routines and sing about fruits and vegetables into wireless mics.

The band members go by the alias’ of Peach, Banana and Tomato.

Kinney said their band started as joke on Instagram. They made a band profile for fun and never planned to play a show – but then it turned into something real. On March 28, they won the award for Most Original at FHS’ Battle of the Bands.

They’re excited to play their first ever festival and share a bill with local artists.

FLOURISH Festival features both music and art. (Photo Adam Travis)

“It’s crazy, I feel like Hannah Montana, like it’s great … from September to where we are now is insane. I honestly thought it would just be a joke. And I think it’s a joke gone too far, in a good way,” said Kinney.

Kinney thinks FLOURISH is a good fit for Frooti Toot-e.

“It honestly seems like a really great atmosphere for us. Because I know FLOURISH is more like artistic … like freeing, and you can do whatever you want as an artist, like, get out of the box. And that’s pretty much what Frooti Toot-e is, so I think FLOURISH will be really cool for us to do.”

All-age shows and art installations will happen at places like Shiftwork Studio, the Charlotte Street Arts Centre, the New Brunswick Library of Craft and Design, Bellwether, the Abbey Café & Gallery, Gallery 78 and the Beaverbrook Art Gallery.

Olivia Thomson, an 18-year-old University of New Brunswick student, will be displaying her art at FLOURISH this year.

It’s going to be her first time showcasing her art at a festival.

“There aren’t a lot of opportunities for like amateur artists like myself to showcase … I think it will be really good to have the opportunity to do that,” said Thompson.

At FLOURISH, Thompson will display some of her zines at the FLOURISH Zine, Print & Art Fair and is working on creating a portrait made out of glued together fabric for a pop-up event at Shiftwork Studio.

“I haven’t worked with fabric since I was a little kid, so I’m not sure how it’s going to turn out but I’m excited to try,” she said.

Some all-age shows will take place at Shiftwork Studio on Queen St. (Photo Adam Travis)

Her favourite thing to create is portraits of people in “weird situations.”

“[In] one of them, her eyelids are being held open by crayons.”

Thomson said she draws inspiration from everyday objects.

“When I get stressed out, I start thinking really quickly. And there’s just like a lot of pictures that I have in my head and they kind of translate into art eventually.”

As for going out to see music, Thomson said she’s excited to go and check out some all-age shows at FLOURISH, something she’s not able to do very often.

“There will be shows around town and I’m like, ‘Oh, I’m not 19 yet.’ It really limits things that you can get involved in.”

Blanchard is excited for FLOURISH’s fifth year. The festival takes place from April 25 to 28.

“FLOURISH is all about building a bigger and better community,” said Blanchard.

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