Top News

Ruining it for the rest of us


It is that time of year again. The time when leaves burst from the trees heralding the beginning of the best time of the year. The part where we don't have to wear overcoats and hats, when we are able to relax outside next to the sizzling barbeque with family and friends. Yes, summer is around the corner. And with the warmer temperatures and growing grass comes the annual central Newfoundland tradition of trashing the Salmon Festival lineup.

It is that time of year again.

The time when leaves burst from the trees heralding the beginning of the best time of the year. The part where we don't have to wear overcoats and hats, when we are able to relax outside next to the sizzling barbeque with family and friends.

Yes, summer is around the corner. And with the warmer temperatures and growing grass comes the annual central Newfoundland tradition of trashing the Salmon Festival lineup.

It seems that it starts every year as soon as organizers announce who will be coming. Immediately, people complain.

Country music lovers moan because there is a rapper scheduled to appear.

Rockers are upset because the headliner's amps only go to "10".

Teeny boppers bemoan the fact that their fave-of-the-day is playing Los Angeles that night and his voice will soon be changing.

Music fans - and those without a clue - complainad naseum.

Frankly, it is getting a bit tiring.

We all know the Salmon Festival has not been raking in the bucks over the past few years in ticket sales, but let's not forget about the spinoffs.

Raincoat sales, you say? Yes, most definitely. Lousy weather has plagued the concert day for several years. So much so that you can put an "x" on your calendar and be assured you don't need to wash your car that day.

Beer sales? Without a doubt. More suds are sold on Salmon Festival Saturday then all the rec hockey leagues in Atlantic Canada can hoist in a season.

Hotels are full, restaurants put on extra shifts and gas stations pump it out almost as quickly as the beer tent is.

But why can't we have the Rolling Stones or AC/DC at Centennial Field?

Maybe they are too big of a gamble.

Organizers are in a no-win situation when it comes to the big concert.

To bring in U2, Lady Gaga or (gulp) Justin Beiber would be a multi-million dollar throw of the dice. Certainly their ticket sales would be incredible, but the Exploits Valley does not have the infrastructure to support a concert with 50,000 in the audience.

It would be great to have The Boss show up to play a four-hour show in Grand Falls-Windsor, but if he did, people would complain about the several hundred dollars they had to shell out for tickets.

The fact is that this year's lineup is roughly at the same level of those previous, if not better.

The first headliner of the Salmon Festival concert was Tommy Hunter. Now he was pretty popular, perhaps due to his television show's timeslot before Hockey Night in Canada. But he was no huge coup, that is for sure.

A few years later, Allanah Myles and Waylon Jennings hit the stage. Two acts. It was 1993, three years after Myles' "Black Velvet." The album she released that year, "Rockinghorse," had a tune that hit number 27 on the Canadian Singles chart. She was a B-list performer. In fact, all of the headlining acts that have played Salmon Festival have been B-listers. Even Bryan Adams, who is perhaps the biggest star to ever have played the field, had been relegated to the second line of rockers by the time he came here in 2004. By then he was focusing more on his career as a photographer than a musician. He recorded a duet with Pamela Anderson that year - enough said.

This year's lineup is along the same lines, big enough to drag in some fans, but small enough that we don't have to sell the mill, erm... sell our first born, to pay for them.

And there are some quality acts there. Three Days Grace is one of the biggest Canadian acts right now. Faber Drive will satisfy the Junior High students. Country fans will love Doc Walker, who is Manitoba's answer to Big and Rich. Classified combines hip hop and hometown with his hits such as "Oh, Canada" and "The Maritimes." Sloan was once slated as the band who could take over Nirvana's stranglehold at the top of the heap of the best alternative rock genre. Matthew Hornell and the Diamond Minds are George Street stars this year and will undoubtedly grow to be Mainland headliners. Their brand of folk-fused rock and thoughtful lyrics bring to mind Bruce Cockburn and Hawksley Workman at first listen, but tunes like "Khaki Dodgers" will remind you that these fellows are from our own backyard. They had a song on "The Republic of Doyle," so you've got to love them for that alone.

No one wants the Town of Grand Falls-Windsor to lose more money on the big show this year. The acts are there. Now all they need are the people to get behind the idea of enjoying the day.

There has not been a Salmon Festival concert yet where the crowd did not leave hoarse at the end of the night.

For seven bands, the early-bird ticket price is not a bad deal. You can spend the day people watching, seeing friends you haven't seen in years and maybe, just maybe, enjoy a few tunes.

David Newell

Recent Stories