Defunct P.E.I. bands reunite, revive festival to honour late founder

Once an important part of the P.E.I. music scene, the Close to the Coast music festival at Baba's Lounge in Charlottetown is being revived after eight years to honour its founder, Lloyd Doyle.

'The whole week coming up, we're going to save a spot at the end of the bar for him'

Baba's owner Ryan Abdallah, left, and Pat Deighan of the Trailside Cafe and Back Alley music get ready for next week's Close to the Coast music festival. (Angela Walker/CBC)

Once an important part of the P.E.I. music scene, the Close to the Coast music festival at Baba's Lounge in Charlottetown is being revived after eight years to honour its founder, Lloyd Doyle.

The festival ran for a decade from 2000 to 2010, and showcased rising indie music stars from the Atlantic region — some of them represented by Doyle, who owned P.E.I. label Sandbar Music. 

We wish Lloyd could have been here.— Ryan Abdallah

"More than anything, this is for Lloyd Doyle," said Baba's owner Ryan Abdallah, who is organizing the festival with Pat Deighan of the Trailside Cafe and Back Alley Music.  

"It's a little bit of a different spin on what we used to do — it's a blast from the past, it's a bunch of bands that worked with Lloyd, and Lloyd helped everybody in their budding careers," Abdallah said. 

Doyle, who died last April at age 69, approved the idea of the show before his death, Abdallah said. 

"He was pretty excited — the whole week coming up, we're going to save a spot at the end of the bar for him," he said. 

The festival's purpose back in the day was exposure to new bands, as opposed to well-known draws, Abdallah said. "Seeing who's out there, and all the new, interesting stuff that's happening." 

"You could walk in not knowing any of the bands playing at Baba's that night and you'd be just blown away," Deighan said.

'Always there for you'

Doyle worked tirelessly for his young clients, including Meaghan Blanchard and Catherine MacLellan, as well as the P.E.I. music scene as a whole, helping to get Music PEI off the ground, Deighan noted. 

Lloyd Doyle oversaw the careers of many budding P.E.I. acts. He died last spring. (Alanna Jankov)

"When you're a young band starting out, to have someone like Lloyd in your corner — whether it's just signing up for the ECMAs or getting CDs pressed, he was just always there for you," Deighan said. 

In the past the festival was held in the summer, but organizers thought this time of year would bring in Islanders who are home for Christmas. 

It's also a good time of year to get nostalgic and raise some funds, they said. Proceeds from the festival will go to Doyle's family. 

The festival will bring together some bands that haven't played together in years, Deighan noted — he himself will play in three different bands including Pat Deighan and the Orb Weavers. 

'Going to be fun'

"I have a lot of songs and a lot of lyrics to re-learn," he laughed. "Hanging out with the old band members, they're all buddies too, and we never see each other anymore so it's going to be fun."  

The lineup includes Flush, Eyes for Telescopes, Haunted Hearts, The Sidewalks, Elephant Rock and many more. 

"Everybody, in my time in the music scene, did start at Baba's," recalled Deighan. "So it's very fitting to have it [here]."

"We wish Lloyd could have been here — we were here with Lloyd every other time," promoting the festival, Abdallah added. 

Tickets are $10 at the door and donations are welcome, the event's Facebook page notes.

With files from CBC Radio: Mainstreet's Angela Walker