Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 10/9/2020 (219 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
With so many Westman concert series cancelled this summer due to COVID-19, the organizers behind the Harvest Sun Music Fest attempted to fill this void in late August by putting together a purely online show.
Calling this year’s concert "From Our Backyard to Yours," the 2020 Harvest Sun Music Fest featured its usual eclectic mix of folk, country and alternative acts, including the likes of Route 10 Collective, Yes We Mystic, Scott Nolan and The Mariachi Ghost.
The only difference this time around is that all of these performances were pre-recorded separately, whereas the artists would be playing together live in the village of Kelwood under normal circumstances.
Harvest Sun founder Nadia Kuhl and her team were then charged with splicing all these videos together for a two and a half-hour livestream that was broadcast on their official website Aug 22.
Even though this setup was completely uncharted territory for Kuhl, the organizer told the Sun on Sept. 1 that she was pleasantly surprised by the sheer amount of variety and creativity on display from the different videos submitted by these musicians.
"Some of it was literally from their backyard shot on their phone and some of it was in a studio and a couple people used older recordings and put it to new video … but we were pretty happy with how everything turned out," she said.
Of course, the process of editing this livestream together wasn’t without its technical challenges.
"One of the larger difficulties was dealing with really large file sizes and putting it all into one complete file and sharing that back and forth with our creative group that was putting everything together," Kuhl said.
But despite the fragmented nature of this year’s concert, Kuhl found that the livestream still managed to retain the intimate, small-town feel that has defined Harvest Sun ever since it began in 2005.
A lot of this was made possible thanks to veteran performers like Al Simmons, who has been a mainstay of Harvest Sun for years now and provided a sense of familiarity throughout this unconventional show.
"He’s a pretty special creative mind and personality, and when his videos came in it was definitely a heart-warming moment to see what he came up with," she said. "We just let him have the run of the place, so it felt fitting to have him interspersed throughout the show."
Kuhl was also happy that this year’s concert provided a platform for up-and-coming artists like Ojibwe folk-pop singer Gabrielle Fontaine, who hasn’t been given a lot of opportunities to book gigs or perform publicly since the coronavirus pandemic began ramping up in March.
In fact, Kuhl said one of the reasons why she decided to go ahead with the Harvest Sun this year was to give these musicians a guaranteed payday during the COVID-19 outbreak.
"Artists, in particular, are hit hard during something like this because their entire summer livelihood that feeds them throughout the year is pulled out from under them," she said. "They’re self-employed, and usually self-employed people in Canada are not eligible for unemployment insurance."
While Kuhl isn’t sure what the 2021 Harvest Sun Music Fest will look like right now, she and her team are committed to putting something together for next summer.
However, in order for that to happen, Kuhl is imploring government entities to keep their pre-existing art grants in place, even though they might be tempted to cut back on "non-essential" funding in light of the pandemic.
"If we value art and we believe that it brings something special to our lives … then it adds to our ability to be healthy," she said. "So I think it’s important to at least attempt to continue to support the arts even in times like this."
To watch the 2020 Harvest Sun Music Fest in its entirety, visit theharvestsun.com. This year’s online concert also featured artists such as Amadians, Marcel Desilets, Madeleine Roger and The Stanley County Cut-Ups.
» Twitter: @KyleDarbyson