Of course, now everyone wants to know what’s coming to Horizon Stage next year.
On the Horizon
I’m happy and sad at the same time to have closed the curtain on the Horizon Stage 2018-19 season.
In our final show on Friday last week, Trevor Panczak kept the crowd entertained and even awarded prizes to the audience. It was so sweet — he did an audience poll and invited the couple that had been married the longest to share a dance onstage. Sixty-one years of marital bliss deserves to be celebrated, and they were a lovely couple.
So that’s a wrap on 2018-19. Of course, now everyone wants to know what’s coming to Horizon Stage next year. Well, we have given you a little taste of a couple of the acts with our “sneak peeks” in the last couple of programs, but for the whole lineup you’ll have to wait until the end of June. Watch our social media throughout June for some more previews, and those on our mailing list will get the brochures near the end of that month. For everyone else, Canada Day is where we officially “launch” the season, handing out brochures to eager visitors. Tickets will be on sale July 8 by invitation only for our presale patrons, and to everyone everywhere on July 9.
Speaking of July, I have the distinct pleasure of programming all the stages for the City’s Canada Day Celebration in Jubilee Park. From the Community Stage featuring local dance and cheer groups, plus musical solos and groups, all the way to the main stage headliner, I am tasked with finding acts to entertain you. The majority of this work is already done, and I’m pleased to say our announcement of the main stage lineup earlier this month has been met with enthusiasm. A few people have asked me how we choose the acts, so I figured this might be a good way to give you a little behind-the-scenes look at the process.
First and foremost, the artists must all be Canadian. It just wouldn’t be right to put an American (or other international) artist on a stage designed to celebrate what it means to be Canadian. Then, I’m sure some of you have noticed already that we alternate years between a country music headliner and other genres. You do love your country music around here (and so do I, honestly) so we make sure there is a healthy dose of it on stage. We do know that there are some who don’t count themselves as country fans though, so we can’t go overboard by headlining it every year.
This year our headliner is definitely in the “other” category – a fantastic powerhouse female-lead group of transplanted Newfoundlanders. The Derina Harvey Band is a force to be reckoned with, as anyone who has seen them can tell you. Besides having a set of pipes that just won’t quit, Derina is a lovely woman and we are proud to call her and the whole band friends. They have played twice at Horizon Stage and sold out easily both times, delighting the audiences with Celtic rock tunes. We’ve been trying to get them to Canada Day for a number of years, but they often get called back to Newfoundland for the holiday. I was thrilled when I started talking to them about a year-and-a-half ago about 2019, and they said there was a good chance they’d be staying in the province. I jumped at the chance, and we’ve had a signed contract since the fall, making them the earliest contracted Canada Day headliner ever. Triumph and jubilation! I’m over the moon to finally have them on our big outdoor stage, to carry the party into the fireworks finale. I guarantee there will be jumping and dancing galore when Derina launches into some of her trademark songs.
Working backward through the evening, once we had lined up Derina, we decided it would be a really cool idea if we could have all the main stage acts be from Alberta this year. Really make it a homegrown celebration. Well, in the end we did even better than that, and all three groups are from the capital region. Our middle act is often where we put a band that you might not be familiar with, or one that is a bit different from the rest, kind of a wild card, if you will.
2019 will bring The Wet Secrets from Edmonton. Known for highly energetic and entertaining live shows, they fit the bill perfectly. They sometimes wear marching band costumes on stage, making them memorable to say the least. Their sound has been described as a mixture of punk rock, grit, and surrealism — quite possibly something new for a lot of our audience. They have played festivals all over the place and, to be truthful, I think it’s about time they made their way to Spruce Grove. I expect to see some Edmontonians in the crowd, as their following tends to be quite loyal.
Opening the main stage is a local favourite – Steve Newsome. Yes, he’s country, so while our headliner isn’t, we do still have representation for the genre. This is not technically Steve’s first Canada Day appearance, though it is his first main stage gig with us. A couple years ago he played in the final spot on the Community Stage, where he had an audience of approximately 30 soggy people, including the crew. That was the year the skies opened up and dumped rain all over the late afternoon crowd. Steve and the band soldiered on and were determined to make the best of it.
We pushed them back as far as we could under the clamshell cover and they played their hearts out. There were a couple of dancers in the field who remarked that if the band was playing, they were staying. We felt bad for all of them, so we’re happy to graduate the band to the big stage this year. They also opened at Horizon Stage for the Washboard Union, so we did get to see them in better conditions. Let’s hope their luck holds outdoors this year.
Stay tuned for more announcements regarding Canada Day entertainment. The Community Stage schedule will be on the City’s website along with all kinds of details about what you can expect at this year’s celebration. There are some new activities coming, and we’re all excited to share the day with you.
Don’t go camping – the campgrounds are full and crowded. Stay home and party with us! We’re super-fun and we’d love to host you. Talk to you soon.
Brandi Watson is the theatre manager at Horizon Stage in Spruce Grove.