NORRIS POINT — Life during COVID-19 means a lot of things are not happening this year.
“And we didn’t want to be one of those things that kind of just said, ‘we’re done for the year, see you next year,’” said Ian Stone, chair of the Trails, Tales and Tunes board.
So, the popular Norris Point festival, which had announced on April 1 that it had been cancelled, followed up on April 27 with news it had been reinvented for 2020.
Stone said the decision to cancel the festival was somewhat made for the board as the province implemented measures to deal with COVID-19, but still it was difficult to do.
“It’s the big kind of kick-off to the season. Kind of like opening the doors and letting the fresh air in and just having a great time of getting everybody outside and together again.”
Once the board knew it would not be able to deliver the festival in its normal format, Stone said it was decided they still had to do something and approached some people — Tom Cochrane, Olivia Ball and Gary Wilton — they felt might be able to.
The result will be a 10-day radio/digital version of Trails, Tales and Tunes from May 15 to 24 that is being produced in partnership with the local radio station, VOBB (Voice of Bonne Bay).
Cochrane, who’s looking after live production, said it’s a bit of crazy idea, but one he thinks is important to do.
“It’s such a big part of the community. Come May 2-4 weekend Trails is the thing that gets people outdoors. It gets you out seeing your neighbours again. It gets you in that feeling of like summer, it’s not here, it’s like really close.”
While people can’t get out in the way they normally do and take in the concerts and other events, Cochrane said they can still bring some of those voices into their homes.
He said it’s all about keeping the feeling of Trails, Tales and Tunes alive.
“So, when we’re back to normal, whatever normal becomes and is, and whenever that is, then we just roll right back into it,” he said.
He said the plan they’ve come up with will emulate the original schedule as much as possible and every night there’ll be a concert featuring a couple of recorded sessions from previous festivals and one live set broadcast on VOBB and on Facebook at 8 p.m.
Cochrane said the performances will feature the “best of the best” and the live performers will all be brought in remotely. The lineup will include Sherman Downey, Rosemary Lawton, Nick Earle and Chris LeDrew.
The nightly concerts will be hosted by people from the community, regulars to the festival like Shirley Montague, Zach Sacrey and Wayne Parsons. They’ll connect and check with listeners to find out how people are doing.
We're back! 🎉 The 14th annual Trails Tales Tunes Festival WILL be going ahead, just in a different format. For ten...Posted by Trails Tales Tunes Festival on Monday, April 27, 2020
In addition to the concerts there’ll be some storytelling throughout the week and interviews with representatives of Parks Canada to talk about things people would see on the trails if they could get outside. After the Friday evening concerts there’ll be chats with the sound technicians, including brothers Mike and Lou MacDonald.
Stone said VOBB has been the festival’s radio partner for 14 years and, during that time, has recorded and captured a lot of the moments. That’s something the board is extremely thankful for at this time.
“I think we really understand now the importance of recording and of capturing a lot of the content that happens at these festivals year in and year out. Even if you don’t have a plan for it yet, I think capturing it is really, really important.”
Depending on how goes, the format is something the board may continue.
“Even now we don’t know what next year holds. We might have to do a similar thing again or figure out ways to do more experiences outside in the open air, so it does become a lot safer,” said Stone.
“We’re also looking at ways that we might be able to even deliver a bit of a digital experience in other parts of the year. That really kind of goes to our brand of local, downhome, grassroots sort of experiences.”
Stone said maybe what they’re doing could help other festivals throughout this summer and into the fall to generate some revenue to be able to pay artists and keep their brand going.