RandyFest packed The Ship Pub in St. John’s July 11-13, with a slew of bands playing three consecutive nights in the downtown venue.
Now in its sixth year, RandyFest began in 2013, the festival name inspired by Ryan (Randy) Winsor, a friend of organizer Jordan Randell.
Originally a high school house party, RandyFest eventually moved to a bar setting as its organizers turned legal age. Unofficially, Randell was just “tired of scrubbing puke out of bathtubs.”
He began Home Alone Promotions with Alex Janes, opting to donate all their show proceeds to a local music-related charity, beginning with Project Grace, a non-profit organization that offers music lessons to underprivileged youth.
“Music has done so much for me. It has influenced my entire social life and I wouldn't be who I am today without it, so being able to help provide that sort of enrichment to children who normally wouldn't be able to afford it is a really great feeling,” Randell said.
During its first “public” festival in 2017, RandyFest donated a whopping $2,100, and the donations continued to climb each year, with added merchandise sales and the festival name now renowned in the local music scene.
In 2018, RandyFest donated about $2,700 to Strong Harbour Strings, a social program that offers youth learning experiences through music, with educational and performance components.
The 2019 RandyFest kicked off on Thursday, July 11 with Wiremouth (punk/hardcore), Worst Lay (hardcore), Bails (alternative hip-hop), Albert Dalton (hip-hop), Detained (punk/hardcore) and Van Buren Boys (hip-hop), and inspired a remarkable turnout for a weekday event.
Friday’s lineup marked the third show of new local group Anyway // Any Way (alt/emo), followed by Pillowcount (pop-punk), Jupiter Cycles (alt/pop-punk), and Swimming (alt/emo math rock).
The evening’s main attraction was the reunited-for-one-night-only Jonny & The Cowabungas (psychedelic surf-rock.) The band began the set wearing grim reaper costumes, and brought along a homemade cardboard coffin to crowd surf during the show.
The music continued late into the night, with Jonny & The Cowabungas hitting the stage at last call, around 2 a.m. Playing generally instrumental tunes – their Bandcamp bio notes that the band was “gonna write lyrics but we got stoned instead” – the vibe was frenzied fun as attendees grooved to the rhythms.
The music continued on Saturday, July 13, again continuing late into the night. Hullo (dreampop) opened the show, followed by Lexi Hicks (indie pop), Park Day (pop) and also reunited-for-one-night-only Maans (indie rock).
There was a surprising amount of crowd-surfing throughout the weekend, especially during Park Day’s super-fun set and throughout Maans performance, as longtime friends and fans sang along to the familiar tunes, like “Pizza Pie,” released in 2015.
With 15 bands playing tons of both new and old familiar tunes, the 2019 RandyFest was exceptionally spectacular and highly successful.
This year, the festival shattered its personal best record, donating an impressive $4,024 to Strong Harbour Strings.
RandyFest has raised approximately $8,500 for youth in music since becoming a charity event just two years ago. Punks might have a bad reputation worldwide, but here in Newfoundland and Labrador, the punk scene is full of good people doing good for their community.