Quality Block Party to celebrate many of New Brunswick’s independent music makers.
With the East Coast Music Awards set to take place in Saint John in April, a number of local musicians and music lovers have decided to use the opportunity to celebrate many of the artists currently operating on the industry’s fringes, outside of the traditional industry structure.
Quality Block Party will take place April 26-30 in the city’s uptown district, offering a full slate of festival-style programming including showcases, in-store performances and conference events.
The event got its start following a conversation between a few local musicians interested organizing performances during ECMA Week. The original idea was simple – set up a few events to highlight some of the bands from the region who weren’t playing official showcases. It just grew from there.
“We started off with the idea of doing some shows at Taco Pica because at the time that wasn’t being used as an official venue,” said Peter Rowan, one of the organizers behind Quality Block Party. “We had also looked at a few other spots that weren’t getting used all that much during that week.”
From there, the idea continued to grow with more and more artists from different parts of the province expressing interest.
“Everybody we talked to about this project was excited about it,” said Rowan. “It’s really encouraging.”
The event takes its name from the uptown Saint John block where Bustin’s Fine Furniture operated for 100 years before closing up shop in 2015. Situated between Germain and Canterbury Streets and King and Princess Streets, the area was once known as the ‘quality block’. Pedestrians can still see the letter Q as part of the sidewalk’s inlay where Germain Street meets King and Princess.
To pull this party together, Quality Block Party has partnered with several businesses along the block (or close by) to act as venues for performances and after parties. Yuk Yuk’s Comedy Club, Taco Pica, Elwood’s Wood Lab, Backstreet Records, 36 Water Street and Five and Dime have already jumped onboard with more expected to be announced in the coming weeks.
Organizers are currently finalizing a list of performers that is expected to reach upwards of 30 bands and artists, almost entirely from New Brunswick. Confirmed performers at the time of this article include Julie Doiron, Motherhood, Little You Little Me, The Galpines, The Squirts, Janowskii, Keith Hallett, Bad People, CHIPS, The Waking Night, Reagans Rayguns, Jane Blanchard, Hypochondriacs, Owen Steel, Young Satan In Love, Beard Springsteen, Nerve Button, Right Shitty, Some Dads, Penny Blacks, Cellarghost, Math Class, Butcher, ER and the Other, and 1995 Zellers.
“I loathe the term No Case and I try really hard not to use it,” said Rowan. “That got us thinking about how we could come up with a different angle for what we’re doing. We’re going to do some in-store performances at Backstreet Records, possibly some conference stuff at Third Space and I think Julie [Dorion] might even be leading a yoga class. We’re also looking at a crazy, Sunday, 15 band, all-ages extravaganza.
“This is not a middle finger to the ECMAs,” he said. “That’s totally not it at all. I sat down with Andy [McLean] from the ECMAs and tried to come up with the right term and in some ways, this is a celebration of the ECMAs. They’re doing an event here that’s going to bring a whole lot of people to the uptown area.”
Quality Block Party is supported by Music NB, Grid City Magazine, Local 107.3 FM, Historica, Hemmings House, Pension Clothing, Sad Dog, Printing Plus and Monopolized Records.
“It’s all coming together,” said Rowan. “We’ll have schedules so people can plan their days and see the acts the want to see. It’s going to be a party.”
Very limited early bird passes, regular passes, day passes and individual show tickets will be available at Backstreet Records starting March 7th. ECMA delegates and attendees welcome.
Learn more at www.musicnb.org/QualityBlockParty