Troubadour Fest Returns To Barrie

The second edition of this multi-venue Ontario festival sports an impressive lineup including Matt Andersen, Cowboy Junkies, and Bedouin Soundclash. We learned more from co-producer Ryan Andersen.

Troubadour Fest Returns To Barrie

By Kerry Doole

It has been a turbulent period on the Ontario music festival scene of late, as exemplified by the Roxodus debacle.

There is good news in the form of the return of the Troubadour Festival, heading to Barrie, Sept 20-21. An impressive lineup for this, the event's second year, has been announced, led by Matt Andersen, Cowboy Junkies, Bedouin Soundclash, and Danny Michel, and also featuring Damhnait Doyle, Harrow Fair, the East Pointers, Old Man Luedecke, The Darcys, Jerry Leger, Moscow Apartment, Taylor Knox, and more. In all, Troubadour features over 30 artists performing in five Barrie venues.


To get the lowdown on Troubadour, we contacted fest co-producer. Ryan Andersen. Along with partners Chas Hay and Shane Krick, he heads Inside The Music, which he describes as "a division of Hey Bear Productions."

"The name Inside The Music comes from the first series of shows we presented in Barrie.  Each show was an intimate acoustic concert that also included Chas interviewing each artist, similar to what he had done for more than 20 years in his TV career. Our first four shows featured Colin James, Jimmy Rankin, Ron Sexsmith, and The Heartbroken."

The company has experience in presenting a wide range of music events, with Andersen noting that "Troubadour is definitely our largest undertaking and most gratifying. We have a great team of passionate music folks working with us, and we learned a lot in year one that will help us present an even better festival this year. "

Andersen reports a positive response to the 2018 debut. "We were very pleased and excited about the response to year one, with more than 2,500 music fans attending."

He adds that "we receive funding from Celebrate Ontario as well as solid support from our partners at the City of Barrie, Barrie Tourism, and the Barrie Downtown Business Association."


A closer look at the lineup reveals an emphasis on roots acts and singer/songwriters, and Andersen confirms this emphasis. "We think of it as a songwriters festival, hence the title Troubadour. Chas is somewhat of a roots music aficionado, so naturally he gravitates towards that genre when curating the festival. That being said, many genres are represented and we hope to expand the genre selection as we grow the festival in future years."

The calibre of the bill has the potential to attract festgoers from beyond the local area, as Andersen is quite aware. He explains that "almost 50% of our attendees last year came from more than 100km away, many from Toronto and many from up north. This year we are partnering with Indie 88 to help spread the word in Toronto and the Moose FM stations up north."

The fact that such Toronto fests as TURF and Field Trip have either closed shop or taken a hiatus this year certainly increases the odds of TO music lovers taking a 400 trip north.

Addressing the topic of the Roxodus fiasco, Andersen is quick to stress that "our festival is not very similar to what Roxodus was trying to achieve.  We are a grassroots festival that takes place in cool clubs, a cafe, a vineyard, and a church, certainly not in a large field that has never hosted an event. For every Roxodus debacle there are dozens of festivals to be trusted. In our area, people can enjoy Mariposa, Roots North, Sawdust, and many others."


Andersen credits partner Chas Hay with a key role in the success of TF, explaining that "Chas' experience in music television is what led to the creation of Inside The Music and our festival. In addition to the concerts we promote, we also present The Songwriter Series, a monthly series curated and hosted by Chas in The Temple Lounge in downtown Barrie. Based on the ‘guitar pull’ format the series is currently in its 5th season, and we will present a special Songwriter Series show at Troubadour. It takes place at St Andrews Church on Sept. 21 and features a couple of wonderful songwriters, Danny Michel and Damhnait Doyle, as well as a special artist TBA."


He is appreciative of the music industry support of Troubadour Fest, stressing that "we couldn’t do it without the great co-operation from our friends at the music agencies and management companies, as well as the artists who are doing it on their own. Our feedback from all the artists who performed last year was overwhelmingly positive. Great vibes, cool rooms, cold drinks, and of course terrific songs from great artists. All within walking distance for an affordable price."

Ron Hawkins played the fest last year with his band Do Good Assassins, and he tells FYI that "it was very well run and Chas [Hay] took good care of us all. I love Chas; he's a great lifetime music supporter."

Toronto singer/songwriter Lori Cullen also played the first fest, and loved it. She tells FYI that "I had never seen Barrie come to life in this way. Chas is a music lover who wants to share his passion with his city. I can see this festival lasting many years and really adding to Barrie's culture."

Check the full fest sked here

The Beaches performing at Billboard Canada's Women in Music Launch on June 5, 2024
Marc Thususka Photography

The Beaches performing at Billboard Canada's Women in Music Launch on June 5, 2024


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