Making a Comeback

Story by Matt Prokopchuk, Photo by Keegan Richard

After going on a one-year hiatus last summer due to the COVID-19 pandemic, organizers of the annual Tumblestone music festival are working to bring back the music this year. But, like many performances and festivals, 2021’s edition will look quite different.

Those behind the popular festival are raising money with the goal of holding Tumblestone as a solely online event this year, featuring pre-recorded sets by eight local artists, as well as opportunities for spectators and musicians to interact virtually, says Ed Blanchette, the artistic director for the Tumblestone Collective and Music Festival. The virtual concert series will be streamed on social media, with the goal of being free, Blanchette says, adding that they’re fundraising through crowdsourcing (a GoFundMe campaign started in early May, and another one, through Indiegogo, is slated for June), as well as submitting grant applications to organizations like the Ontario Arts Council and Tbaytel.

“We’re trying to keep this a free event as well,” he says. “One of our worst-case scenarios [is] if the funding falls through, then we have to scale back. Because we’re prepared to scale forward or backwards with this project, depending on the funding available.” The lineup for the festival is being kept under wraps for now, and Blanchette says he wants to release the names of the performing artists slowly, as they reach 10% milestones during the Indiegogo campaign. One thing that is in the works, however, is a tribute to the late Camden Blues, who passed away in early 2020.

Prior to the pandemic shutting things down last year, Tumblestone had been running as a late-August annual festival since 2011. This year, however, Blanchette says the plan is to release the streams once per week in the fall. Should grants come through, though, he says there may be an opportunity to run a sort of pilot prior to the main event and extend the series. “I don’t know if that’s possible or not, I think we’ll just follow the steps the way we wrote it in the grant and we’ll stick to that as much as we can, making sure we don’t sacrifice the artists’ rates,” Blanchette says.

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