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Outdoor rock shows celebrate summer

By in Culture

GREG REESE
Arts Editor

Summertime is here and gone in a flash; one minute you’re basking in the sun, drinking sweet lemonade and listening to Yoko Ono scream some horrendous melody into your headphones, and the next you’re bundling up against a cold autumn night.

Around this time of year, a person looks back on the summer months in an attempt to recreate an accurate image of what has taken place over this brief interval.

For me, most of the memories worth keeping are the times I have spent outside. I remember the summer as a series of tennis matches, drunken barbecues, days spent at the beach, highway drives and reading books on the balcony­ — these are the blissful, defining moments.

Naturally, when I heard that Sonia Dickin was, for the second year in a row, putting on a massive, free outdoor show, I got excited. I couldn’t think of a better way to cap off these ephemeral summer months than to sit in the grass and listen to a bunch of my favourite local bands.

“Free shows are better because more people come. Like in the park last year, because it was in a public space, all these people that were walking through the park would stop by,” said Dicken. “I had a lot of people come up to ask, ”˜Who is this? I really like this, can I buy their CD?’”

When Dickin is not organizing outdoor concerts, she is the songwriter and lead vocalist behind the fuzzed-out indie group A Gentle Forest.

With River Landing starting to come into its own, outdoor music has been flourishing in Saskatoon this summer. But the line-up of over 11 local and touring bands, playing all genres of music, makes this show unique. And if this show turns out to be as explosive as last year’s, it will be quite the spectacle.

“It was awesome. There was that fireworks festival too. All these people were parading to the fireworks and stopping on their way there.”

Billed for the end of the summer on Aug. 29, a number of ex-locals are back in town playing at the show. Tessa Kautzman (formerly of Linus Hemmingway) and Jon Ostrander (returning from a sort-of music residency in the Yukon at Dawson City’s famous Westminster Hotel, better known as The Pit) will be joining such local favourites as Shuyler Jansen, Shakey Wilson and Slow Down, Molasses.

“It seems like everyone comes back to Saskatoon at the end of the summer; it’s the scene now plus many of the people that used to be part of it,” Dickin explained.

Of course, outdoor shows are also convenient for anyone under 19. And the fact that Dickin is putting on an all-ages show is certainly no accident; last year’s free show at the Vimy Memorial bandshell occurred as the end result of Dickin’s search for an all-ages venue.

“It’s kind of hard finding an all-ages venue in Saskatoon. There really are not many good all-ages venues. Luckily I stumbled across the City of Saskatoon parks page — and, well, it’s free.”

Undoubtedly, the best reason to have a free outdoor show is that it’s fun. With such a huge line-up, musicians end up playing to other musicians and sometimes collaborating in new and unusual ways. Though Dickin’s band, A Gentle Forest, is trying to make some money to record another album, Dickin stated that her involvement in music is primarily for the love of it.

“A lot of bands are doing it for fun. I mean, that’s what I do. I’m not really trying to make lots of money or anything. This show will be a good excuse to hang out outside because it’s been kind of a crappy summer. I really hope it doesn’t rain.”

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