Story by Matt Prokopchuk, Photo by Flashback Photo

A popular fundraising concert will go ahead again virtually this year as organizers of Rootstock have announced who will take to the stage in 2021.

In a media release, organizers say that a number of familiar names will perform on May 15, including LockyerBoys, Robin Ranger (along with bandmates Dino Pepe and Mario Potestio), Danielle Pollari, Ryan MacDonald from Honest Heart Collective, and folk legend Rodney Brown, among others. The concert series sees all proceeds from ticket sales go to the musicians and Algoma House, and all donations made during the online performances to Roots to Harvest. Rootstock ran for the first time last year and raised about $3,500 in donations for Roots to Harvest, says Nancy Saunders, one of the event organizers and a fundraising volunteer with the not-for-profit. She adds that this year features a new lineup taking to the virtual stage.

“We branched out a bit, we got recommendations from different people—some of the people from last year recommended artists that they know are up-and-coming and that they thought people would enjoy,” she says. Brandon Smith, Jamie Sky, Tim Albertson, Norman Sponchia, and Cassidy Houston round out this year’s lineup, while Chad Kirvan and Mary Jane MacDonald from Algoma House will again host the live broadcast. The stream will be held over Zoom and will feature pre recorded sets from all of the participating musicians, along with live introductions and interactivity with the hosts and performers, Saunders says. “The musicians will be on there [the broadcast], we’re hoping that they’ll be able to engage with the audience live,” she says, adding that Erin Beagle, the executive director of Roots to Harvest, along with herself, will also address those watching and listening. “It’ll be a lot more interactive than it was last year.”

Money raised for Roots to Harvest will be important as the urban agriculture organization has lost over $100,000 in fundraising revenue for its programming since March 2020 as it hasn’t been able to run some of its tentpole events, like the polar bear plunge and Matterhorn Madness, due to COVID-19 restrictions, Saunders says. “It’s been a difficult year for everyone. Our urban farm employment programs are still at the heart of our work at Roots to Harvest, and we continue to run it along with our other regular programs,” Beagle was quoted as saying in the release. “Then we’re also trying to meet the immediate needs of people struggling because of the pandemic. We’ve had a lot of really generous donations come in to help us provide food for the community and region.”

Tickets are $15 and can be purchased through Eventbrite. Saunders says there’s also food and beverage packages from Royal Aleppo Food and Barkeep available. For more information, you can visit the Roots to Harvest website at or the Rootstock 2021 Facebook event page. The concert starts at 8 p.m.