Be in the Band: Stewart Park Festival and YAK Team up with Bluesfest Initiative

From left: YAK Executive Director Tanis Cowan, Ottawa Bluesfest Community Program Manager Alan Marden, Stewart Park Festival Music Director Joel LeBlanc and Stewart Park Festival Chair John McKenty.

The Stewart Park Festival and the Youth Action Kommittee (YAK) are excited to announce they’ve partnered with the Ottawa Bluefest to launch its popular program, Be in the Band, here in the Perth area!

The Ottawa Bluesfest first launched their ‘Be in the Band’ initiative in January of 2009. The three-month pilot project put young musicians (ages 11 to 17) who wanted to be in a band together with other potential band-mates. The festival organization recruited a number of professional local musicians for mentoring the aspiring future stars and provided all the necessary tech support and equipment for the kids to truly enjoy a high-quality ensemble experience.

The Ottawa Bluesfest organization has expanded their ‘Be in the Band’ program to include at-risk youth in various communities. Many of these potential musicians do not have the means to afford music lessons. As an entry level opportunity, Bluesfest provides 10 to 12 weeks of semi-private lessons for as many as 10 pairs of students (ages 11 to 17) in each participating community.

Now, that program will come to Perth. Led by YAK, the Be in the Band Program run out of the YAK Centre where a music instructor will mentor a newly formed band. Together, they’ll practice twice a week for nearly three months.

“We’ve always had musical undertones in the YAK Centre, so this program is a great fit,” says YAK Executive Director Tanis Cowan. “We like that it’s intended for youth who wouldn’t normally form a band, and we’re excited to bring music to the forefront here at YAK.”

The band will then give a live performance at the Stewart Park Festival’s TD Showcase on Friday, July 14 followed by a performance at Bluesfest later that weekend. They’ll also do a semi-private concert at the YAK Centre.

Stewart Park Festival has contributed the funding required to get the Perth-area band to perform on stage at Bluesfest as well as open up a performance slot at the festival.

“This program is a great complement to our Youth Showcase especially since it provides more youth with an opportunity to delve into music and to perform on stage,” says SPF Chair John McKenty.

YAK will be doing a call out for mentors and will eventually do a call out to youth interested in being a part of the band.

Learn more about the Be in the Band Program.