British Columbia

Kiss bassist Gene Simmons out of the lineup for Grand Forks rock festival

One of the biggest names in rock and roll will not be rocking out in a small B.C. town this summer.

Up to 40,000 concert-goers were expected to descend on the southern Interior town

Gene Simmons of Kiss had invited tens of thousands of people to a summer music festival in Grand Forks, B.C., this summer. (Eduardo Munoz/Reuters)

Gene Simmons won't rock and roll all night in a small B.C. town this summer although it's possible thousands of concert-goers will still party every day.

In January, Kiss bassist Simmons caused a flurry of excitement when he announced that he had partnered with local organizers for a music festival in Grand Forks, located near the U.S. border about midway between the coast and the Rockies.

But it turns out the timing wasn't right for one of the biggest names in rock from the '70s and '80s.

"[Gene Simmons] was busy doing his thing with Kiss End of The Road tour," said Chuck Varabioff, organizer of the festival.

It used to be called CannaFest, and then Titans of Rock music festival, but recently had a name change to Canada Rock Fest. 

Up to 40,000 concert-goers were expected to descend on Grand Forks to see Gene Simmons — almost ten times more than the number of people who live in the town. 

Now, Varabioff says, a "manageable level" of 10,000 to 12,000 people are expected to attend.  

For Grand Forks Mayor Brian Taylor, the news comes as a bit of a relief.  

"I don't know whether everyone shares that [feeling] or not but I think some do," he told Sarah Penton, host of CBC's Radio West.

"Gene was an unknown entity and some of the wild things he said really alarmed people."

Taylor says he thinks the festival will run more smoothly now. 

"There's a mistake that communities make sometimes in overgrowing an event," he said.

While Simmons' absence from the lineup was met with disappointment by some, Varabioff said most people understand and are still excited about the concerts. 

The lineup, released this week, includes Burton Cummings, Randy Bachman, Our Lady Peace, 54-40, Toque and Vancouver punk band D.O.A. 

The festival runs Aug. 6-8, 2020. 

Click on the audio link below to hear more:

Up to 40,000 concert-goers were expected to descend on Grand Forks to see Gene Simmons — more than the number of people who live in the town. 8:46

With files from Radio West

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