Megan Nash loved her first performance at Prince Albert’s Chester Fest Couch and Music Festival, but this isn’t how she planned on making a return.
Nash agreed to step in as the Chester Fest emergency headliner after the original act, classic Saskatchewan rockers The Northern Pikes, cancelled their performance and postponed two others due to COVID. She said it’s been a crazy experience, but she’s up for the challenge.
“It was a whirlwind,” Nash said during a phone interview on Thursday. “I made some calls right away to make sure we could do it. The band was super into it. We’ve moved some plans and changed some plans, but we wanted to make it work because we really love Chester Fest.”
For Nash, being back in the Chester Fest lineup is a bittersweet feeling. While she’s glad for the chance to play another show, this isn’t how she hoped to do it.
“I say bittersweet because I wish The Northern Pikes were feeling better,” she explained. “We’re seeing so many bands having to cancel because of COVID, and it’s been so hard on our industry, like it has been for a lot of industries. I just hope they start feeling better soon.”
Logistical issues aside, returning to the Chester Fest stage was an easy decision for the Juno-nominated singer. Pre-COVID, Nash would play around 100 shows a year. The fact that Chester Fest left such a positive impression on her the first time around only made her even more eager to play.
“We think the world of Joel (Chester Fest director Joel Rohs) and everybody involved, and we just want to be able to get back on that stage and hopefully put on a really great show for everyone,” she explained.
“I just felt like it was a nice, down-to-earth, boutique music festival. I loved the concept of the couches. I think that’s so fun and, like they said on their website, they’re the comfiest festival on the prairies.”
Like a lot of musicians, Nash used the downtime brought on by COVID-19 restrictions to write some new music. However, when you consider her hectic travel and performance schedule, Nash said it didn’t really amount to an increase in production.
She released her new album, ‘Soft Focus Future’, in November 2021 after a challenging schedule, and a brief point in time where she felt lost without any gigs to play.
“The first few months of COVID, especially, I was just numbed by it all,” she remembered. “Leading up to that point I was playing a lot of shows. I love playing shows so much and I love this lifestyle, and to not have gigs on my calendar, I found that really hard.
“I was like, ‘who am I?’ I’m so wrapped up in performing for people and I love meeting people and I just love playing for an audience, so to not have that? Yeah, I took that pretty hard.”
Instead of getting back in the studio to record ‘Soft Focus Future’, Nash and her band relied on internet correspondence for feedback. While it was difficult to not have other people in the room to bounce ideas off of, Nash is pleased with the finished product. She even found time to add a few new songs.
“I was forced to take more time on the recording, which in hindsight was a gift, to be able to pour so much time and love and care into every single chart like that,” she said. “And I did write a couple of songs. I thought I was done writing this album before the pandemic, and then at the start of it, I found a time of heavy reflection, I reflected on my pretty busy, busy, busy life prior to that slowdown and did get a couple more songs out of it, so that ended up being kind of the mission statement of the album.”
Megan Nash and the Best of Intentions perform on the Main Stage at 9:20 p.m. on Saturday. The festival begins today with Paris Pick, Seven Mile Sun, Marissa Burwell, and the Youth Showcase on the Main Stage. The Great Fuss and League of Wolves perform after hours.
For a complete schedule or ticket information, visit www.chesterfest.ca.