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Top Canadian acts coming to a gym near you!

By Jennifer Thurbide

Looking for something to beat the impending winter blues? The Wilderness Entertainment Series (WES) says their seasonal line-up will bring the heat as representatives announced last week their first concert series showcasing an impressive list of prominent Canadian performers.

From October to April the Red Lake District High School (RLDHS) will be the venue of choice for performances by Canadian artists Jim Cuddy, Michelle Wright, Kim Stockwood and Kevin Fox, the Lost Fingers and Treasa Lavasseur and committee member Janet Hager says it is about time that the district attracted some serious musical talent.

“Dryden has had their [entertainment] series going for awhile, Sioux Lookout has, Atikokan, Fort Frances, Kenora as well and we just haven’t been a part of it,” said Hager, while discussing the announcement last week. “Years ago there was an adult entertainment series which was fantastic and it just kind of slipped by the way side for a variety of reasons. And then there was the children’s entertainment series and it came back last year. It is time for this one. We have got some great community partners which have helped because that has given us financial stability – because it is expensive.”

Confirming the showcase of artists will bring a price tag upward of$42,000, WES Chair Angela Bishop says with the support of Goldcorp Red Lake Gold Mines and a number of community businesses the group has been able to partner with other regional communities to block book a series of Canadian entertainers while creating an affordable evening out for residents.

“It is really, really important for the survival of the entertainment series that we have the support of the businesses, we couldn’t go on without them because what we try to do is keep the price within reach of the general public – five concerts for $100 if you buy the package is pretty reasonable to see Jim Cuddy, Michelle Wright and Kim Stockwood.”

Music enthusiasts may quickly recognize the body of work of Blue Rodeo front-man Cuddy, country music sensation Wright and pop singer Stockwood, however Bishop cautions those considering tickets not to count out the performance power of the lesser known acts such as Kevin Fox, The Lost Fingers and Treasa Layasseur.

“[The other three] will be equally stunning,” she offers.

The WES is made up of a group of seven individuals who have an interest in bringing quality musical performances to the masses, with their first event being held in March 2011 when the Thunder Bay Symphony made a visit to the district. Bishop says the performance was a success and gave the group of dedicated volunteers motivation to continue to push for inclusion in the regional booking process that allows communities to share the costs associated with concerts of a higher caliber.

“The interesting thing is people will say ‘why would [entertainers] come to Red Lake’ and it is because every artist needs an audience and they want to get into the communities of Northwestern Ontario because generally they haven’t been here before. It becomes a partnership between the audience and the artists because they need us and we need them,” continued Bishop.

And as for the price of the event? Hager says “we often say we have to go into the city to partake of these things and if you went into the city and rolled in all of the costs – travel and tickets which are going to be way more than $25 – for the experience that they are going to get, for the amount of money that they are going to pay, there is no comparison.”

Season tickets are available at The Water Buffalo, Balmer Video and Stems N’ Such and individual tickets will be available at the door of each performance. Hager says the group would like to see 200 season tickets sold to break even and each performance will be able to hold upward of 300 people.

Jim Cuddy is set to take the stage at the RLDHS gym on Oct. 1, Michelle Wright on Nov. 3, and Kim Stockwood and Kevin Fox on Nov. 30. Kicking off 2013, the Lost Fingers will perform on Mar. 19 and Treasa Lavasseur on Apr. 16.

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