Top News

P.E.I. musicians, storytellers, comedians coming together for Island Drive-in Festival

Kyle Simpson, a cameraman with Confound Films, records a performance by the Mi’kmaq Heritage Dancers that will be part of the Island Drive-in Festival this summer.
Kyle Simpson, a cameraman with Confound Films, records a performance by the Mi’kmaq Heritage Actors that will be part of the Island Drive-in Festival this summer. - Dave Stewart
NORTH RUSTICO, P.E.I. —



Island musicians, storytellers and comedians are going on a tour this summer.

Seven days of production have just wrapped up on the Island Drive-in Festival that will see talent performing at 12 venues across Prince Edward Island, all while adhering public health restrictions.

Versatile Management Group is managing the event for the not-for-profit Small Halls Inc., which co-ordinates and annual Festival of Small Halls, while Confound Films is handling the actual filmmaking. It is a 100 per cent P.E.I. production.

Confound Films wrapped production on Tuesday, filming about 40 musicians, storytellers and comedians and will produce three 90-minute shows that will be broadcast at pop-up drive-ins.

There will be 12 shows — four in Prince County, four in Queens County and four in Kings County.

The Island Drive-in Festival is a new twist on the classic drive-in experience featuring over 30 exceptional Island artists. - Facebook photo
The Island Drive-in Festival is a new twist on the classic drive-in experience featuring over 30 exceptional Island artists. - Facebook photo

The festival will kick off on the July 24 weekend at the Brackley Drive-In. While this is merely one of the locations it was felt because it is a permanent drive-in, it was a natural spot to kick things off.

The three shows will be on a rotating schedule and will be free to attend, but advance tickets are necessary so organizers can control the volume of people and ensure contact tracing is done. Parking spots will be assigned. Information on tickets will be released soon.

Each show will be broadcast on a large drive-in screen with the audience all watching from the comfort, and physically-distant safety, of their own vehicle.


The lineup

Following is a small sample of musicians, storytellers and comedians that will be featured in the Island Drive-in Festival:

  • Tim Chaisson
  • Vince the Messenger
  • Junior Peter Paul
  • Vishten
  • Lennie Gallant
  • Mi’kmaq Heritage Actors
  • Catherine MacLellan
  • Irish Mythen
  • Inn Echo
  • Patrick Ledwell
  • Gary Evans

Mark Derry, manager of special event projects for the P.E.I. Department of Tourism, said each show will feature up to 15 different artists.

“This isn’t Small Halls as it normally would be, considering these times, but it’s a project of Small Halls and it helps keep their brand alive and let people know they are there and it gives some (Island) artists some exposure,’’ Derry said. He noted that some of the visuals produced could be used in the future to help the artists.

This production is not to be confused with a similar one that is in the works. The Cavendish Beach Music Festival is also producing its own drive-in concert series.

Derry said it’s too early to say what this will end up costing the province. As of Tuesday, he was still waiting for Versatile Management Group to deliver the budget, explaining that different venues come with different costs — some venues, for example, already have washroom facilities and electricity while other venues will need both.

“The investment to me is really allowing up to 40 artists to get a paycheque,’’ he said, adding that there will be spin-off effects such as restaurants in various Island communities getting a boost in traffic.

The Mi’kmaq Heritage Dancers, from left, are Brittany Lush, Richard Pellissier-Lush, Jessica Francis, Riley Bernard and Julie Pellissier-Lush. The group will be one of 40 artists that will be featured in the Island Drive-in Festival this summer.
The Mi’kmaq Heritage Actors, from left, are Brittany Lush, Richard Pellissier-Lush, Jessica Francis, Riley Bernard and Julie Pellissier-Lush. The group will be one of 40 artists that will be featured in the Island Drive-in Festival this summer.

Derry said the festival has received approval from public health officials and they are prepared to make any adjustments as necessary as things progress.

Josh Ellis, executive director of Small Halls Inc., said while this idea came as a result of the pandemic there is a chance this type of activity could stick.

“Now we know we’re able to do it,’’ Ellis said. “Maybe in the future, we can do pop-up film screenings . . . maybe you don’t have to bring in Arcade Fire from Montreal; you can do it in a little drive-in concert.’’

Locations are still being finalized but Ellis said they will include the sloped hill behind the Cymbria Lions Club, the old race track in O’Leary and the Rock the Boat Festival grounds in Tyne Valley, as well as undetermined spots in Charlottetown and Summerside.

The festival will run through September.

RELATED:

Did this story inform or enhance your perspective on this subject?
1 being least likely, and 10 being most likely

Recent Stories