An all-star, all-Canadian roster of entertainers spanning the generations is set to perform over the next four days in Toronto as part of the Grey Cup Festival.
The younger generation is well-represented at the half-time show Sunday, with Stratford, Ont., teen sensation Justin Bieber and hot new artist Carly Rae Jepsen of Mission, B.C., to perform.
But Grey Cup organizers haven’t forgotten the veteran fans. Somewhere during that short 20 minutes, Gordon Lightfoot will take to the stage and, for those who prefer their rock a little harder, Vancouver band Marianas Trench.
Lightfoot has no hesitation about sharing a stage with Bieber, saying he was impressed by the youngster's album, My World 2.0.
"It has that truly professional sparkle to it," said Lightfoot, who was singing himself as a teenager.
"It’s a wonderful opportunity for me to have a show with Justin Bieber. It certainly is and I’m certainly going to give it a great shot."
Lightfoot told CBC News he's a long-time football fan and excited about being part of the Grey Cup experience.
"I learned about it from my Dad. I used to watch the Grey Cup games when I was in grade school My Dad, Gordon Sr., knew all about the CFL," he said.
The all-Canadian lineup and its refreshing diversity is a change from past years. Organizers offended many Canadian music fans by inviting American band Black Eyed Peas to play in 2005.
Last year, in Vancouver, it was Nickelback and only Nickelback, who performed at halftime, a band with as many naysayers as admirers.
In Toronto, before the Calgary Stampeders face the Toronto Argonauts on the field, there’ll be yet more Canadian faces on the field.
A pre-show will feature singer-songwriter Kathleen Edwards of Ottawa, Burton Cummings of Winnipeg and Johnny Reid, the Scottish-born country singer who has lept onto the pop charts with Let’s Go Higher.
The festival staged around the 100th Grey Cup also features musicians from across the country. Some of the stars slated to perform:
- Thursday: Kardinal Offishall and K’naan with Mia Martina and Kreesha Turner.
- Friday: Sam Roberts Band, Matthew Good and Treble Charger.
- Saturday: Myles Goodwyn and April Wine, Kim Mitchell and Big Sugar featuring reggae artist Willi Williams.
Judging by the poor turnout for the hip hop concert Thursday at the Metro Convention Centre, Grey Cup organizers may have misjudged their crowd.
The concert by international star K'naan drew very few fans, CBC's Steven D'Souza reports.
Streets are already closed outside the Rogers Centre as a stage is erected to host yet more artists for a series of free concerts. The Grey Cup tailgate party and street festival begins at 4 p.m. Friday.