Barnstorm Watch: going up to the country with tic and his friends

Barnstorm Watch: going up the country with tic and his friends

“This is not,” Barnstorm’s organizer tic stresses, a “punk rock festival.” Neither is it, despite the description on sponsor CKCU’s website, a “country music” festival.

But there will be punk rock. Country music too. It’s all part of a rich mix of genres courtesy of bands playing late into the rural eastern Ontario night. You’re advised to bring something to eat, something to drink, something warm to wear and some camping gear. Inhibitions are to be left in the city. Barnstorm may not be a country-music festival. But the day-long event set to take over tic’s barn – aka The Odditorium – Saturday, Sept. 14, is very much a country music festival.

That’s country as in Concession 3-4, county Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry, near Finch. This ain’t no Hog’s Back. This is live music in the country. And you’re invited to sit a spell and enjoy a sextet of local bands, including known local quantities Shannon Rose and the Thorns, The Bushpilots, The Bible All-Stars as well as up-and-comers The Bruitals, Alaskan and Jack Pine and the Fire. Meanwhile, in the ‘chill zone,’ DJs will be keeping the tunes coming throughout. The grounds will be open all afternoon for your picnicking enjoyment or a walk in the country; the live music starts in the evening – and runs ‘til late.

“It’s about getting country people to accept new music and getting city people out to the country,” is how tic explains the mission behind his ambitious event, which he launched in 1993 and has kept alive through determination and a passion for live music. This will be the 14th edition of the not-quite-annual rain-or-shine barnburner. And it promises to be a doozy.

For tic, it’s all about the music. And making the most of that barn. (“I eat in there; I sleep in there; I just love that barn.”) A true labour of love, Barnstorm is for the longtime CKCU volunteer an opportunity to see bands treated well, to welcome locals and visitors young and old to his rural oasis, and to offer to those few hundred attendees a memorable day out – complete with a raffle for a cool Marshall beer fridge.

“This is my hobby,” he says of the event that he estimates costs him around $2,000 to stage. “I don’t do sports. I don’t drink excessively. I don’t do hookers. This is what I like to spend money on. I like to do it; I like to do it right; and, I want to make the bands that play it feel special.”

Part of that is providing bands with food and drink, plus a modest sum. As well, artists are treated to a professional recording of their set, on CD and DVD. Each performance will subsequently be broadcast on CKCU’s Live Revolutions program. (Broadcast the last Thursday or each month, from 4 to 5 p.m.)

Not that Bushpilots keyboardist Tom Pechloff needed to be sold on Barnstorm. He estimates he has played “seven or eight” of the previous 13 editions, with a variety of bands. For the remaining five or six, Pechloff has joined the party as an audience member.

“The vibe is great,” he enthuses. “Maybe it’s because I grew up on a farm, but any time I can get away to a setting like this I will. And everyone is there for one reason: they love music. That’s why tic puts it on, that’s why people come to listen and that’s why people come to play. So it’s a really positive attitude, really supportive.

“What struck me the first time I went was how organized it is. It is one of the best organized events I have ever played and the musicians are treated extraordinarily well. And of course the location: in a barn. And the barn – or as tick calls it, the Odditorium – isn’t your average everyday barn.”

But then, Barnstorm is not your average everyday festival. Most festivals, for one thing, do not encourage you to sleep over. (The air can get chilly, so come prepared.) Most organizers, meanwhile, do not invest in their own lasers and smoke machine.

“I want it to evolve,” tic says, as he dares to dream of adding a second day to next year’s Barnstorm, as well as expanding beyond music to showcase crafts. “I’ve wanted it to be a music festival but I also want a few surprises.”

He pauses to consider Barnstorm’s unlimited potential.

“I need a personal assistant,” he says.


Saturday, Sept. 14th

Click here for the official article. Thanks to the article by Allan Wigney and

It’s about getting country people to accept new music and getting city people out to the country

See you at the next event!

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