Danielle Bourre can remember when headline talent at Toronto’s Annual Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) or (The EX) meant the likes of The Rolling Stones, The Who, Elton John, Van Halen, David Bowie, Bruce Springsteen all sharing the spotlight at the main CNE Stadium. Yet those halcyon dates of Michael Cohl’s Concert Productions International attractions changed when the Molson Amphitheatre, later changed to the Budweiser Amphitheatre, which was created slightly westward on Lakeshore Blvd in 1995.
With the CNE Music Schedule for 2019 now released, other Canadian Exhibition festivals like the Calgary Stampede, Edmonton’s Klondike Days, Vancouver’s Pacific National Exhibition, Saskatoon Exhibition, Regina’s Queen City Exhibition are all set to roll out their main stage attractions.
Now, in her 25th year of booking talent for the CNE, Bourre has been consistently active in luring major talent to the CNE’s Bandshell which has become the central venue for prime evening entertainment.
“The Bandshell used to be just utilized for afternoon activities, but when Exhibition Stadium closed, the focus switched to the Bandshell and that’s how it’s been since then,” she noted.
In selecting the variety of talent which takes to the Bandshell Stage for each CNE schedule, Bourre is always aware that she needs to provide a lineup which boasts a wide musical appeal. “With these shows being free to CNE attendees I obviously have a set budget so the challenge is to maximize that budget,” she explained. “Obviously with the difference in the U.S dollar, there are limitations to what I can do and I always look at what I can do with Canadian talent first.”
With that objective in mind, Entertainment Director, Bourre has assembled an excellent menu of Canadian talent which should appease all musical tastes. She has booked classic artists like Burton Cummings (Aug. 16), Jann Arden (Aug. 24), and April Wine (Aug. 23), indigenous performers Buffy Ste Marie (Aug. 26) and A Tribe Called Red (Sept. 1). Plus a country music night featuring Meghan Patrick and Aaron Goodvin (Aug. 25).
Younger fans will be treated with appearances by Johnny Orlando (Aug. 20), Tyler Shaw (Aug. 22) and Magic (Aug. 30), Alternative rock fans will be drawn to Rival Sons (Aug. 19) while Howard Jones (Aug. 29) will appeal to Heritage rock fans. Reggae and Calypso fans will be treated by Ken Boothe (Aug. 21) and David Rudder and the Contraband (Aug. 28) and there’s a special Woodstock Festival weekend (Aug. 17 & 18) featuring tribute bands playing music by Janis Joplin, The Band, Creedence Clearwater Rival, Santana and Joe Cocker
Think of the Calgary Stampede July 4 – July 14 and you think of country music, but under the direction of Natasha Mandrusiak, music attractions have been split into three separate venues. Nashville North is totally country with the likes of Emerson Drive, The Reklaws, Tebey, Keifer Sutherland, Chad Brownlee, Aaron Goodvin, Jess Moskaluke, Andrew Hyatt and David James all set to perform at this venue.
But Mandrusiak is also aware that she needs to draw in more of a variety of audience so the Stampede’s Coca Cola Stage features the likes of Feist, Metric, Chromeo, Mother Mother and The Glorious Sons for a young crowd while the Big Four Roadhouse has pulled the likes of Dwayne Gretzky, The Trews, Classified, The Sheepdogs, Barney Bentall, Sam Roberts Band and A Tribe Called Red for a wide variety of musical tastes.
Traditionally, the PNE Vancouver’s Pacific National Exhibition (Aug. 17 – Sept. 2) has the most inclusive and eclectic talent lineup and their 2019 lineup is no exception. Major U.S stars like Styx, Vince Neill, The Beach Boys, ZZ Top, 98 Degrees, Collective Soul and Smokey Robinson mixed in with domestic talent like Blue Rodeo, Burton Cummings and Colin James.
Saskatoon’s Exhibition (Aug. 6 – Aug. 11) have attracted the likes of Simple Plan, Sum 41, The Glorious Sons, Chad Brownlee and Trooper, Edmonton’s Klondike Days (July 19 – 28) features the likes of Streetheart, Honeymoon Suite, Dear Rouge and Yukon Blonde at the North Stage and The Strumbellas, Hollerado, Bush and Offspring on the South Stage. And finally, Queen City’s Regina festival July 31 to Aug. 4 has attracted Tom Cochrane & Red Rider, 98 Degrees, Nelly and Paul Brandt with Washboard Union.