Fredericton — Celebrating its 25th year, the Harvest Jazz & Blues Festival has become an institution in the city of Fredericton, but some feel that the festival has begun to stray from its roots.
“I dunno, man, we just thought Harvest was getting too big for its britches,” said Anthony Sheffery, guitarist and head organizer for Treblecleph, an independent festival that protests the consumeristic nature of Harvest. “We just wanted people to forget about the advertisements, forget about the sponsorships, and bring the focus back to the music.”
The Treble festival highlights local talent, takes place exclusively in local business spaces and serves only locally made foods. For the past 2 years, it has labelled itself as a “grass-roots, authentic Fredericton experience.”
“Treblecleph is full of shit,” said Melissa Park, the woman behind JiTney, another local festival that seeks to expose the hypocrisy behind the Harvest and Treblecleph festivals. “They claim that they focus only on the music, but they spend all of their time soliciting donations so they can set up tents and rent sound equipment.”
JiTney holds surprise acoustic performances across the city, typically in places that they are not welcome, such as church parking lots, daycare centres and at funeral services. The shows aren’t meant to be pleasant or enjoyable for anyone involved, as Park believes “that isn’t what real music is about.”
“Personally, I think that JiTney is no better than Treblecleph — which has become so mainstream that it might as well just be Harvest,” said Trevor Watt, co-founder of the Flahbahdabahbah festival, a festival created to combat the populist ideals perpetuated by the Harvest, Treblecleph and JiTney festivals. “But for us at Flabahdabahbah, we just want to take music back to the basics.”
Watt and his co-founder Jeremy Robinson are the Flahbahdabahbah festival’s only performers, despite the fact that one of them has never played an instrument before, and there is little evidence that the other one actually exists. The festival has no official times or locations listed, but the events are expected to happen at some point in the near future, if they haven’t already.
Local music lovers are encouraged to check out these fine festivals, or any of the 72 others around the city that have asked not to be mentioned in this article, as they do not believe in the “publicizing” of music.