Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

There's no classic rock in new festival plan at Lake Minnedosa

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THREE weeks after Little River Rockfest joined Classic Rock Weekend on the list of failed Minnedosa music festivals, a credible player has emerged with a plan to make the August long weekend concept work.

Darryl Wolski, a Brandon-based event producer, wants the shores of Lake Minnedosa to come alive again next summer -- not with the sound of classic rock, but more contemporary rock 'n' roll.

"If I see Toronto or Prism or The Headpins one more time, I'm going to get a gun and shoot myself," jokes Wolski, who's putting together a business and marketing plan for a new, as-yet-unnamed festival on behalf of a couple of Western Manitoba investors.

Correctly sensing the classic rock market is oversaturated, his idea is to stop booking club 'n' casino acts like Trooper or Harlequin and lay down bigger cash for bigger draws like Collective Soul or Creed instead.

Model

His model is Stage 13, an outdoor rock show that attracts 30,000 fans to a site near Camrose, Alta. That event succeeds because its organizers understand the most important rule of concert promotion: Your show is only as big as your biggest act.

Here's how the maxim works: If you charge $80 admission to your festival, there had better be at least one band on the bill that people will gladly pay $80 to see. Ten $8 bands won't cut it, especially if most of them played a nearby club some time over the previous year.

Of course, you need a big wad of cash to land big names. And when you're working with a site like Lake Minnedosa, where two festivals went bankrupt in three years, you need to raise all that cash ahead of time to prevent suppliers and support workers from getting nervous.

Wolski figures he'll know by mid-October whether he has enough cash to proceed next year. If all goes well, expect a festival of shorter duration (two or three days instead of four), staffed by volunteer organizations and workers from some of the more successful Classic Rock Weekends.

"The idea is to not reinvent the wheel," says Wolski. "We're looking at doing one big event and doing it right."

Meanwhile, at Grand Beach

As Lake Minnedosa struggles to stay on the concert map next year, the nature of future entertainment at the Grand Beach Entertainment Centre remains up in the air.

Gilles Paquin, the Winnipeg talent agency owner who helped produce the Grand Rock Music Festival over the July long weekend, says the outdoor concert venue he leased will be around for the long haul.

The catch is, he doesn't know whether he'll be back to rent it out again next year.

"The site is viable. But running an event like this takes too much time and money and I'm only willing to invest time," Paquin says. "(The festival) lost enough money to buy a nice house in Winnipeg."

Thanks, Gilles -- but would that beautiful new home be in Tuxedo or Point Douglas?

"I'll leave that one up to you."

Quibbles and bits

* After putting out a solid Christmas album that few people heard in 2002, Winnipeg-born pop band Crash Test Dummies is going to re-release Jingle All The Way on a bigger label. Universal-distributed Maple Music has picked up the 11-song disc, which features the freakiest version of Good King Wenceslas you'll ever hear. It's due in stores Oct. 7.

* Tonight's a release party night for Winnipeg electronic music producers Fanny, Not Half and The Blasphenaut, who unveil new works at the Collective Cabaret. Admission is $8.

* And Au Bar, the new high-concept cabaret in the former Wise Guys building at the corner of Rorie & McDermot, will throw open its doors tonight. An invitation-only grand opening party is slated for Wednesday.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 12, 2003 $sourceSection$sourcePage

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