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Fresh sounds downtown: Fredericton's Flourish Fest returns

A grassroots music fest featuring interdisciplinary art, all-ages shows, and some of the region's best new music is invading Fredericton bars and backrooms this weekend.

Interdisciplinary indie fest is back for the third year - and bigger than ever

Flourish Festival runs through Sunday at various locations in downtown Fredericton. (Submitted by Flourish Festival)

A grassroots music fest featuring interdisciplinary art, all-ages shows, and some of the region's best new music is invading Fredericton bars and back rooms this weekend.

Flourish Festival began Thursday and runs through Sunday at various downtown locations, including Read's Newsstand & Cafe, the Capital Complex, and above Radical Edge on Queen Street.

The four-day festival features more than 50 acts, including Ada Lea, Beard Springsteen, David R. Elliott, Jaguar Knight. Owen Steel, and Young Satan In Love, plus visual art, film, and locally produced printed goods from across the region.

Cool & weird sights, sounds

"The first year we expected it to be really small," said Stefan Westner, who co-ordinated the festival with founder Jane Blanchard. "But the response we got was amazing. This year, we have a better idea of what to expect and we have artists from all over Ontario, Montreal, some from the states." 

"The reason we do all this is because we love playing shows as much as seeing them.

Brendan Magee of Front Porch Records said the festival has quadrupled in size and will feature all of the bands on Front Porch Records' roster. Magee founded the independent label in 2015 with fellow musician Cedric Noel.

The band Brookside Mall is performing at Flouish Fest this weekend. (Photo: Michael Mohan éSubmitted by Brendan Magee)

Front Porch Records is a collective "focused on artists and bands that are going to be pushing outside of the city," Magee said.

This week, coinciding with Flourish, the company released a new, synth-pop-inflected album by Brookside Mall, and a new indie rock LP by Fredericton-based Sentimentals.

"We have a whole pool of talent that we're drawing on," Magee said, "and we've had a really good showing here in downtown Fredericton."

Music, zines, visual art

On Friday, April 21, at 5 p.m. at the Fredericton Arts Building, there will be a screening of the film Tapdance by Saint John filmmaker Michael Mohan, and spoken word and ambient music from Ocean Charter of values.

"Tonight is going to be wild," Westner said. "We're unveiling some installations throughout the Fredericton Arts Building that we've gone all-out on."

A Zine & Print Expo on Saturday afternoon, hosted in collaboration with Sad Dog Zine, will feature pencil and ink works by Amna Khurshid, zines from Egress Mag, vintage clothing and accessories from Little Cat's Bazaar, hand-embroidered clothing and patches by Robin Goodine, and wares by many other local artists and makers of all things printed and illustrated .

The Zine & Print Expo at Flourish Fest is hosted in collaboration with Saint John-based Sad Dog Zine, edited by Angel Bustard and Kasie Wilcox. (Submitted by Sad Dog Zine)

The festival is presented in partnership with Downtown Fredericton Inc., Picaroons Traditional Ales, the City of Fredericton, CHSR, Fem Core Woman's Collective, Grid City Magazine, the East,  Aura Whole Foods, Yoga Grow, Backstreet Records, Bored Coast Records, Heavy Trip, and Pretty Purgatory.

Small festivals like Flourish, Magee said, are crucial to the local music scene given the loss of both Maritime Countryfest and FredRock in 2016.

"It's all the more important to ensure that new things keep popping up," Magee said.

Tickets and passes for Flourish Fest are available via the event website, or at the door of most events.

"If folks haven't experienced it before," Magee said, "it's one of the coolest things we have going on in Fredericton."