Regina’s Busker Festival: for the love of live music!

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Sick hat, bro. Tyler Gilbert

Wascana Centre’s first annual Busker Festival brings live music at a time the community really needs it

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, live music has begun to feel like a luxury of the past. People have been unable to enjoy live music with their families and friends, unable to experience the feeling of the bass in the floor and a melody in the air.

On September 18, Wascana Centre is holding its first annual Busker Festival. The idea of busking has been around since the medieval period when merchants used entertainers as a way to attract more customers to their businesses. The term was coined in the mid-1850s and was used to describe people who made a living through entertainment. Nowadays, a busker is someone who performs in public, usually for money. Busker festivals, which happen all over the world, bring several of these performers to one place to perform for audiences.

Music as a whole is a great way of bringing people together, especially for events like these. Outreach and Visitor Experience’s Programming & Visitor Supervisor Lauren Hope added to this in an interview, saying, “Our main goal is always to bring out people into the community, and into Wascana and into the park, and enjoy the space.”

The arts industry has suffered throughout COVID-19, with theatres and auditoriums being closed. The Busker Festival allows music-lovers to experience live music again while remaining COVID-safe. Concerning the challenges faced while putting on an event during COVID-19, Hope said, “We were lucky in that numbers are lower right now, and that it’s an outdoor space, so that people can space out, and socially distance.”

She also highlighted the importance of keeping the arts alive, and how this motivated the creation of the Wascana Centre Busker Festival. “We were looking at ways that we could support the arts in the midst of COVID-19, while also entertaining the people of Regina and community. We hope people can come to the park, socially distanced, and still be entertained.” And despite this being the first Wascana Centre Busker Festival, there are some great performers lined up.

Regina locals will know the artist Tyler Gilbert, a “Sask based rock singer/songwriter, [who is] playing an acoustic set of all original music. He has released five albums and toured Canada and USA, performing at festivals including Ohio State Far, Burlington’s Sound of Music, Canadian Country Music Award Festival, World Women’s Curling Championship, May Run Music Fest, Winnipeg Fringe Fest, International Folk Alliance and the Canadian Western Agribition. He receives regular airplay on CBC, Sirius XM, and digital radio stations around the world. [He was the w]inner of “Best Song from Solo Artist” in the 2020 Banger Music Awards and a 7-time nominee for the Josie Music Awards in Tennessee.”

Amber Jack Fish will also be performing at the Busker Festival, a duo who have been playing together for 10 years. One half of the duo, Amber Fyfe, “is conservatory taught and primarily plays guitar, mandolin and sings.” The other half, Jack Dublanica, “has a BA in music and does music lessons. He primarily plays banjo and fiddle” They describe their tunes as “Bluegrass, Metis, Celtic, and Old Time.”

Hope is incredibly excited for the event, and proud of her team that helped make it happen, “I’m most proud of how much support I get,” she says. “I throw out these wild ideas, sometimes, and they get behind it and help out and volunteer as much as they can and where they’re needed. I have a great team to work with.”

The festival follows another arts-based program, Arts in the Park, that happened over the summer. In the years to come, Hope intends for more arts-based programming, and another Busker Festival, to help concentrate on the arts and continue to bring more people out into the community.

The Wascana Centre Busker Festival will be on September 18, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Wascana Centre. More information on the Busker Festival can be found at https://m.facebook.com/events/1926664214161877/.

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