Band makes debut gig at sold out Chester Fest fundraiser

The Upside's lead singer, Lucy James, performs at the Patio Party Chester Fest Fundraiser on May 25. (Jayda Noyes/Daily Herald)

A Prince Albert musician has had many beginnings in her career, but this one is particularly special.

Lucy James and other members of the band The Upside performed publicly for the first time at Par Place on Saturday night, and it was all James’ original songs.

After moving to Prince Albert 10 years ago, James has been involved in three bands previous to this one and founded Jam Street Music Sessions, where she teaches youth about her passion.

The Upside performed at the Patio Party Chester Fest Fundraiser, along with Saskatoon band The Velvet Threads.

Chester Fest—which takes place on July 5th and 6th—is a music festival in a field of couches.

Originally the band was hoping to claim a spot in the festival, but all were filled up by the time they were ready to roll.

But with a sold out fundraiser, James was excited about the opportunity.

“This is the first time that I get to practice with people and perform with them just doing original songs and really getting my music out there,” said James.

The band consists of five members—Lucy James (lead singer and keys), Trent Stuckel (guitar and vocals), Shayne Carlson (drums and vocals), James McNeice (bass guitar) and Janice Peake (keys). Peake was not present on Saturday.

Bass player James McNeice at the Patio Party Chester Fest Fundraiser on May 25. (Jayda Noyes/Daily Herald)

The days leading up to the concert were a little nervewracking, explained James.

“Sometimes at events we’re not sure if people are going to show up or not—’Is there going to be anyone there?’” she said with a laugh.

“It was quite amazing actually,” she said. “I wasn’t quite sure how it would come across, if people would like it. As an artist, you’re always a little anxious as to how people will respond to your music.”

Lead singer Lucy James writes all of The Upside’s music, which she feels the crowd received well at the Patio Party Chester Fest Fundraiser on May 25. (Jayda Noyes/Daily Herald)

The crowd was filled with a variety of people.

One of the youngest was Carlson’s six-year-old daughter, who sat front and centre so she could see her dad.

James said her music is inspired by general life experiences: “I find that I tend to write about identity a lot and love and life.”

“I felt really encouraged to keep going with the band and with my own songwriting because it felt like people were appreciating it and could connect.”

James added the band is looking forward to playing at more public events.

Chester Fest putting last touches on inaugural festival

Chester Fest is seeking volunteers—the deadline to apply is Saturday, June 1. To fill out the application form, visit

They’re also still looking for coaches, loveseats and chairs and will pick donations up in Prince Albert and area. To donate, contact Kayanna at or (306) 981-2913.

To get weekend or day passes for the upcoming festival, visit

July 5th features acts including The Dead South, Close Talker, Jay & Jo Trudel, and The Great Fuss. July 6th performances include Harlequin, Bombargo, Rosie & the Riveters and Andino Suns.