Feels Good Folly Fest’s Paul McAllister & Mike Humble share a little insight on how they put each new edition of the festival together.
Organizing a festival is not easy (speaking as someone who spent five years doing it, believe me). What with organizing stage locations, volunteers, art markets, vendors, backline, and sound technicians, it’s a wonder the festival team even has time to book the artists at all.
Folly Fest is three day music and art extravaganza that takes place each summer in the Village of Gagetown, NB. Various art forms are welcome with open arms at Folly, from circus arts to painting to glass-blowing to theatre to fire eaters. When it comes to music, it’s as varied as the art – jam, funk, bluegrass, rock, pop, hip-hop and folk, all have a strong presence at Folly.
To get a better understanding of how acts get booked for this one-of-a-kind festival experience, I spoke with dynamic duo Paul McAllister and Mike Humble, the musical masterminds between talent booking at Folly Fest.
What’s the process like for booking the Folly acts each year?
Paul McAllister: I always look forward to getting into the booking process, it’s such a great opportunity to check out new discoveries. We usually do a sit down and build a hypothetical list, then start filling in the slots.
Mike Humble (aka Mumble): At first, it’s just us hanging out listening to tons of new music, but then as spring creeps back to the land it becomes a little more stressful trying to fill up those last spots with the most awesome bands that will either blow minds or sell tickets (hopefully both). The hardest thing about booking is not having enough slots for all the amazing local acts.
Each year Feels Good hosts an online forum, asking “who would you like to see at next year’s Folly?”. How much do these answers weigh on your final decisions?
PM: Quite a bit! It’s amazing to get the online festival community throwing out fun, sometimes silly, ideas. Not only has it helped us book many acts which we might not have been turned onto, but it also is a wealth of information for fun bands for general listening.
Do you ever feel pressure to book certain acts? How do you balance booking acts that play every year and artists that are unknown to folly folks?
MH: We are rebooking a headliner for the first time ever this year. It wasn’t an easy decision, but Five Alarm Funk is that good.
PM: There is some pressure, but it’s a good kinda pressure. Like the pressure you feel when you’re under a bunch of cozy quilts. Sometimes we listen, and sometimes we don’t. Ee’re flighty like that I guess.
How do you balance local and non-local acts?
MH: Local bands are our buds, and our best advertisers within their circles. Folly could never run without the awesome pool of local talent. For non-locals, we are really trying to bring things in that aren’t as well represented in our community, like No BS! Brass Band and Alysha Brilla, who we are all very excited for!
PM: We attempt to be as local as possible while bringing in a small amount of headlining acts from near and far. This year we’re going as far as Jerusalem for the G-Nome Project. Overall, we try to keep it about 80% Maritime acts, with as many locations represented as possible.
You’re now in your ninth year of Folly Fest – congratulations! How has the Folly vision changed over time? Have the types of artists you’re booking shifted throughout the years?
MH: Well, our goal from day one was to book CAKE….maybe we still will someday! But I love that we are at the point where we can book bands that we think are awesome and the Folly crowd trusts us. We don’t have to book big name acts or YouTube sensations, just solid, funky folks.
PM: I wouldn’t say the vision has changed much, more evolved. When we organized Folly 1, we had no idea what we were doing, and I mean NO idea. The planning consisted of myself, Mumble and (Jon) Dennis sitting around our apartment shooting ideas around. After a few years things started to fall into place organizationally. Now it’s a group of 20+ people from Fredericton to Halifax planning all sorts of different aspects of the event. Same vision, just shared with so many amazing people.
What do you imagine the line-up to look like in, say, five years?
MH: Probably a bunch of our friend’s kids that have been going to Folly for years will start to have bands and they will be playing. That’s gonna be fun!
Which acts are you looking forward to most this year?
MH: No BS! Brass Band and Alysha Brilla for me! I’m excited to have Ben Caplan & Modern Grass back… the whole thing, really.
PM: Oh so many! Super pumped to have Gordon Gets Lost back in action. Dennis and I, as part of The Big 3, saw them playing in Saint Andrews over 10 years ago (before I knew Mumble well), and they kind of inspired us to start Feels Good, so they’ve always been one of my favourite acts ever. Also super pumped for G-Nome, No BS! Actually I may as well just insert the poster image here, because there is not one act I’m like ‘meh’ about.
I think it’s safe to say that the Folly team puts their entire collective heart and soul into each year’s event, evident from the moment you step foot on the Gagetown Fairgrounds. Get your tickets today, they’re selling quick!
No BS! Brass Band / Five Alarm Funk / G-Nome Project/ Alysha Brilla / Ben Caplan / My Son the Hurricane /Modern Grass / Keith Hallett / Dylan Menzie / The Brood / Earthbound / Kill Chicago / Big Band of Fun /David in The Dark / Gordon Gets Lost / Jinx The Cat /The Hypochondriacs / The Barrowdowns / Weak Size Fish / OQO / Jacques Mindreau / The Sticky Bandits /Joyful Noise / The Galpines / Lindsay Misiner & The 7th Mystic / BiTS / Max Keenlyside / Jane Blanchard / The Falling Leaves / Jont & the Infinite Possibility /Nebullama / CHiPS / Lemonisco / Koconut Kings / Hum & Hollow / Womb to Tomb / The Montgomery Street Band / Superfluid / Lew Moss & The Lost Cause /Electric Vibes / Våras / Blue Lobella / Guy & Doll /Sound Investments / Sam Astorino / Jerry Faye Flatt /Tommy Knuckles / Foggyswoggle / Wobble Wallah /Betsy White / Daryl & His Boogie Buttons / Isaac /DJCoolTrainerCody / DERB / Merrytime Archivist / Port City Circus