Paddy’s Garden, a sprawling green field adjacent to the Carbonear Recreation Complex, might be sitting silent and empty now, but come this weekend, it’ll be rocking.
Gene Browne has long been a strong supporter of the local music scene, having worked in the business for the past 10 years. As owner/operator of The Levee live music venue in downtown St. John’s (which he opened seven years ago at the age of 23), he and his team have worked tirelessly to contribute to the local arts and culture community. In addition to hosting events like Battle of the Bands, they have given back to local musicians by producing live videos of their shows free of charge, for use as promotional material, and providing rehearsal and recording space.
Now, the Placentia native is revving up to take his love of local music back out around the bay for the inaugural New Branch Music & Arts Festival. The lineup for the event, which runs from August 26-28 in Carbonear, reads like a who’s who of the local music scene, featuring Amelia Curran, The Once, The Novaks, the Ennis Sisters, Green & Gold, Long Distance Runners and many more. The festival also features entertainment for younger music fans, including Terry Rielly’s famous Teddy Bears’ Picnic, as well as a celebrity soccer fundraiser with proceeds going towards a local charity of the Town’s choosing.
“I knew an outdoor music festival was something that I really always wanted to do,” Browne says.
“Last year, I finally felt that I had built the reputation with bands/companies/groups in the province where I could get this done and really give back on a provincial level to a lot of people who really help me from week to week, and invest back into our own culture and economy. So this is a passion project which has been alive for a long time.”
Securing partnerships from local businesses and support from the Town was quite easy, Browne says, with all hands jumping aboard to help make the festival a reality.
“When I initially decided that this was something I was definitely going to do, I reached out to K-Rock, who invited me in for a meeting shortly after to discuss. They were immediately on board to support a truly local event and really wanted to see this do well…the same thing happened when I approached MusicNL, Molson and Browning Harvey. These folks were instantly on board and really wanted to push this and see it come to fruition,” he says.
“The support from the Town has been more than unreal. We booked a meeting with the special events coordinator, Rob Button, and within five minutes he was all about having the Town host this wonderful weekend. They are more than willing to go above and beyond to help me get this event rolling and successful…it’s been a great time working with them on this.”
Browne says all involved feel this will be a strong event and if all goes well, he hopes to make it an annual showcase.
“I believe in this project, and want to make a difference in our arts community by showing that investing within our own economy, and believing in our culture and talent, that we can produce economically and culturally as much as any other event of its kind.”