Tour De Fort concert series launches for 2021-22 after ‘20-’21 hiatus

Allan Bradbury
Staff Reporter

The Tour De Fort revealed a lineup of six shows on Sun. Oct. 3 in an online launch event. This year’s series will bring some old favourites and some new faces.

There are several changes to the Tour De Fort series this year. Including the fact that there will be no series passports this year. Instead, tickets will be sold on a per-event basis. Charles Fisher is the President of the board of directors for the series. He says a lot of changes have been made due to health and safety regulations for the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re going to do it one at a time and really the reason behind that is just there’s been so much uncertainty with COVID,” Fisher said. “If we have to cancel anything, we just wanted to do it one by one through the season, just because we can’t predict what’s going to happen.”

Capacity at the Townshend Theatre is also reduced to 215 people with current regulations, and releasing tickets for each show allows for more tickets to be sold if regulations change.

Last Friday the provincial government issued notice that many venues would be opened to 100 per cent capacity as of Saturday, stating that the outbreaks associated with venues like theatres, cinemas, and other concert venues have been limited.

“As we continue to see more Ontarians roll up their sleeves with over 22 million doses administered, our government is cautiously lifting capacity limits in select settings where we know proof of vaccination requirements are providing an added layer of protection to Ontarians,”

said minister of health Christine Elliot in a statement.

In an emailed statement after the new guidelines were announced, Fisher said the committee will consult with the Town of Fort Frances and health authorities, and continue as planned until they hear otherwise.

“Tour de Fort’s goal is always to fill the theatre. The increased capacity is very welcomed news. Nothing is more important than the health and safety of everyone who participates in a Tour de Fort show, whether they are a performer, volunteer, crew, or audience member. We will continue to work with the Town of Fort Frances, which owns the Townshend Theatre, and follow guidance from the Northwestern Health Unit on all matters related to public health protocols. For now we will be maintaining the current capacity limit while we await guidance and a decision from the Town and Health Unit.”

Tickets are $25 and can be purchased at Ski’s Variety on Second St. or at the Fort Frances Public Library Technology Centre. Tickets for the first show on Nov. 3, are available now. The show starts at 7:30 p.m. Proof of vaccination will have to be shown at each event to get in.

As for the acts for this year, the Tour board of directors is pleased that all of the previously scheduled acts from 2020-21 were able to be moved to this year.

Some of the acts have played at the Tour De Fort in the past, including Juno Award winner Chantal Kreviazuk who will perform songs from her 2019 Christmas album and some of her other works in late November.

Something different that is happening this year is a comedy show. Fisher says he hopes after being isolated for so long giving everyone a laugh will help.

“It’s been a long pandemic for everybody, and we’re going to kick things off with a bunch of laughs,” Fisher said. “I think everybody’s going to enjoy that.”

Other acts include a double bill of singer-songwriter acts on Jan 14. DRFTR (Pronounced “Drifter”) played at Rainy Lake Square in 2019 and was well received. DRFTR will share the stage with Sleepy Jean, another singer-songwriter who hasn’t been to Fort Frances before.

Feb. 10 will see Twin Flames take the stage. Twin Flames is a husband and wife duo of indigenous performers. Chelsey June is métis (Algonquin Cree) from Ottawa, and Jaaji (pronounced Yaah Yee), is Inuk and Mohawk from Nunavik. They perform songs in English, French and Inuktitut.

Avery Raquel performs on April 15, she is a young performer, but has a lot of experience and three studio albums. Her musical stylings are in the R&B and jazz realms.

The final performance of the season will bring Juno award-winning rock act Whitehorse to the Townshend Theatre. Another husband and wife duo, bring their folk rock stylings from Hamilton. The group has released three full-length albums and two EPs, the most recent in 2017 is called Panther in the Dollhouse.

All of the artists can be found on social media if you’re interested in hearing some of their music before their shows. For more information you can also check out Tour De Fort’s Facebook page.

No matter what acts people come out to see, Fisher is hoping for people to have fun and relax.

“We just want to have a great season and have people be able to come out to the theatre, see some live music and live comedy,” Fisher said. “And have a good time and be safe and comfortable.”

Tour de Fort line-up

Nov. 3, Middle Raged

Sketch Comedy show Middle Raged, featuring Geri Hall of this Hour has 22 Minutes fame and Gary Pearson of MadTV and Corner Gas. “Middle Raged is a hilarious sketch show, exploring that time of life when you’re running out of time! Couples dealing with the madness of childrearing, empty nests, aging parents, financial stresses…and even trying “Outlander” role play to spice up the bedroom!”

Nov. 29, Chantal Kreviazuk

“Christmas is a Way of Life, My Dear.” Chantal will be performing songs from her Christmas album, which includes both originals and some of everyone’s favourite Chiristmas carols. Kreviazuk will also perform some of her other well-loved numbers.

Jan. 14, DRFTR (Pronounced “Drifter”) and Sleepy Jean

A double bill of singer-songwriter acts. DRFTR played Rainy Lake Square in 2019, opening up for My Son the Hurricane. Sleepy Jean recently released the album Idle Hands which is available to stream.

Feb10, Twin Flames

This husband and wife duo of indigenous performers have won lots of awards across the Canadian music industry. Using unique sounds, Indigenous Spirit flutes, traditional drums and western instruments, synthesizing harmonies, singing songs in English, Inuktitut, French they offer a truly unique experience.

Apr. 15, Avery Raquel

This young Jazz and R&B performer is quite impressive for her age with three studio recorded albums. Her 2018 album My Heart Away debuted at number 11 on the iTunes R&B and Soul chart.

May 5, Whitehorse

According to their record label Six Shooter Records, “Since their debut, Whitehorse has traveled from magnetic folk duo to full-blown rock band and beyond. In truth Whitehorse is never fully either one or the other, but an ever-evolving creative partnership that challenges both artists, Melissa McClelland and Luke Doucet, to explore new instrumental and lyrical terrain with each record.”