Mark Poppen and Joel Gaudet are fired up for their latest venture.
The duo already has their hands full with podcasts, record stores, and sound systems, but this summer they’re taking on a fresh challenge: creating their own music festival.
MooseFest is scheduled for Aug. 7 in Bellevue, Sask., a roughly 40 minute drive south of Prince Albert. The duo has rock bands League of Wolves, Seven Mile Sun, and The Steadies lined up to perform, and a wealth of enthusiasm for their new project.
“We’ve always had the ball tournaments and snowmobile rallies on a regular annual basis (in Bellevue) and those are always spectacular turnouts, but if I’m being honest, it’s very repetitive,” said Gaudet, the inventory manager of Funky Moose Records, and lead host of the Sit Down Podcast. “Those two main events have been going on for 20 years plus, and I think we just, let’s do something different for a change.”
“It’s not like we’re trying to change what’s already there because, if you have ball tournaments that are doing well, then let them do that,” added Poppen, the president of Funky Moose Audio and Gaudet’s wingman on The Sit Down. “But like I’ve said before, Craven started in the middle of nowhere and look where it is now. Bellevue is a little bit off the beaten path, but it’s a destination now.”
The duo originally hoped to host a music festival last year to commemorate Funk Moose Records’ five-year anniversary. COVID scuttled those plans before they even got started. With the province starting to open up, they thought a music festival would be a great way to welcome regular summers back, and give music lovers an excuse to get out of the house.
“Everybody was really excited to say yes because nobody has done anything since pre-COVID,” Gaudet explained. “When we had League of Wolves on the episode, that was the first time they were all together in like nine months, and this Moose Festival will be the first time they’ve played together since before COVID.”
“I think the last big event here was a comedian, Kelly Taylor,” Poppen added. “That would have been three years ago now.”
Although the idea for creating their own music festival began several years ago, they credited The Steadies frontman and three-time JUNO Award nominee Earl Pereira for giving them the motivation to make it a reality.
Pereira, a former member of Wide Mouth Mason, gave the duo first dibs on the band’s final free date of the summer, and encouraged them to find a few more bands to fill out the lineup.
“He gave us the push that we needed,” Gaudet said. “It was more like him saying, ‘you guys have been talking about it long enough, so let’s just do it and I’ll help, so yeah, a lot of credit goes to Earl, for sure.”
Alt-rock group Seven Mile Sun from nearby Harris, Sask., and hard-hitting Saskatoon-based rock group League of Wolves filled out the main roster.
Gaudet and Poppen first interviewed League of Wolves on their podcast, and the band tipped to duo off to up and coming group Seven Mile Sun.
Gaudet said they’ve developed a good relationship with both groups, so they didn’t hesitate to ask them to perform.
Both organizers hope the event gives music lovers a chance to get outside and have a good time, especially since they haven’t been able to do so for more than a year.
“Nobody is out to make any money,” Gaudet explained. “It’s just an, ‘I’ll scratch your back, you scratch my back’ kind of thing.”
MooseFest Saskatchewan 2021 is scheduled for Aug. 7 at the Bellevue Community Hall. For more information about tickets, camping sites, and prices, visit www.moosefestsk.ca.