News / Halifax

Halifax's GroundSwell Music Festival showcases variety of East Coast talent in second year

Ria Mae will headline Saturday's show at Olympic Hall in Halifax, fresh off a European tour with Tegan and Sara.

Singer Ria Mae poses off Queen St. W. in Parkdale in Toronto on May 30, 2016.

Andrew Francis Wallace / The Toronto Star

Singer Ria Mae poses off Queen St. W. in Parkdale in Toronto on May 30, 2016.

The GroundSwell Music Festival is back for a second year, showcasing a mix of established East Coast bands with up-and-coming Halifax artists.

The festival takes place from March 16-18 and is hosted by Halifax record label GroundSwell Music. After showcasing label artists exclusively the first time around in November 2015, the festival has expanded a wider ranger of bands in its second year.

“We’ve opened it up and expanded our reach to bring in the best of the East Coast,” said festival coordinator Sarah Atkinson, who said GroundSwell is focus on bringing the best local music, food and drink for the audience.

This includes pop singer songwriter Ria Mae, now signed with Sony Music, who broke through with her hit single Clothes Off. She’ll headline the final day at Olympic Hall, joined by local synth-pop artist Arsoniste and Halifax indie pop rock band In-Flight Safety.

“Ria Mae is taking off right now. She’s coming back from a tour with Tegan and Sara over in Europe. We’re really excited for her to bring that back to her hometown of Halifax,” said Atkinson.

Mae and In-Flight Safety lead singer and guitarist John Mullane have been friends for a long time. Initially the friendship started when the two met at a local show and bonded over having the same haircut and similar clothes. The friendship continued and they've had a long-term creative partnership.

“It’s the best when you know somebody has the talent but it hasn’t been discovered,” said Mullane who recorded an alternate take of his band’s song Stockholm with Mae in 2015.  

“Sometimes people don’t get the opportunity and she did. So it’s a very proud friend moment. It also gives a chance for me to move out of the way and help amplify other people’s careers.”

The festival intentionally picked The Stanfields to headline the Olympic Hall show on St. Patrick’s Day on Friday. The five-piece rock and roots band have a reputation for working hard and knowing how to throw a party.

Rawlings Cross and Heather Rankin opened the festival with a show at the Spatz Theatre on Thursday.

When, where, who and how much:

Friday, March 17, Olympic Hall
Then Stanfields, Like a Motorcycle, The Royal Volts
Doors: 8 p.m., music 9 p.m.
Tickets: $35-75

Saturday, March 18, Olympic Hall
Ria Mae, In-Flight Safety, Arsoniste
Doors: 8 p.m., music 9 p.m.
Tickets: $35-75

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