Tour de fort RLS

Ken Kellar

It’s time to party, and the whole of Fort Frances is invited.

Tour de Fort is hosting two summertime concerts at the Rainy Lake Square in August, which Tour de Fort programming co-chair John Payne said is a way to say thank you to a community that has made the local concert series a success for so many years.

“We’ve had so much support for Tour de Fort over the last few years that we’re in a decent position right now that we could look to do some extra stuff,” Payne said.

“We wanted to try and keep the series relevant throughout the season instead of just running a winter series, so we thought this would be a good way to kind of say thanks to all the community for all the support and offer a free show.”

The pair of shows are “The Honest Heart Collective” on Aug. 8 and returning 2018 crowd-favourites “My Son the Hurricane” on Aug. 19.

The Honest Heart Collective is a 4-man rock band from Thunder Bay that has been making noise in the music scene lately. They released their latest album “Grief Rights” in 2018, and the band has been featured on Exclaim! and CBC.

“They’ve opened for The Sheepdogs, they’ve opened for Finger Eleven, they’re doing a lot of touring in southern Ontario,” Payne said.

“They’re really picking up. We don’t get a lot of pure rock stuff, and they are good rock band. It’s just a good sound. That’ll be fun.”

The second night’s band is already well-known in Fort Frances, having played the Rainy Lake Square in 2018.

“My Son the Hurricane are an 11-piece brass funk/hip-hop fusion band,” Payne said.

“I see people walking around with Hurricane hats on still. It’s crazy how they built up a following here, they’ve done really well and they’ve got a new album out now, so they’re touring that.”

Payne said that Danno O’Shea, the drummer and manager of the band, approached Tour de Fort in attempts to work out a way to play in town again, but that the committee needed to do some quick thinking to make the night work.

“We had already committed to Honest Heart, so we couldn’t produce the show ourselves,” Payne explained.

“So I started looking for sponsors and it was amazing how quick the sponsors came together. Basically we’re covering the band and the sound. Flint House is doing the food and drink, they’re feeding the band, Ben [Morelli]’s taking care of the accommodations.”

“Everybody just kind of threw in a little parts to it,” he continued.

“It worked out really well.”

Payne said that Rainy Lake Square has presented an opportunity for the Tour de Fort committee to increase the amount of live music offered in the area, something he said is a good thing.

“Summers are tough because there’s not always a lot of people around because people kind of scatter and go to their cabins,” he said.

“But with the square now, I would like to see it used as much as possible, get as much stuff in there. The more music we can get. I think it’s great that Ben brings the acts in [to From the Grind Up], that we’re getting the opportunity for live music.”

“I grew up in the town, and it’s always been, ‘There’s nothing to do in Fort Frances,'” he continued.

“So to see things like this start coming in and see them attended, it’s nice to see the change.”

As effort is put in to the summer shows, Payne was also excited to share some details about the final act that has been booked for the 2019-2020 Tour de Fort season, something that wasn’t finalized until recently.

The final show of the season, Payne said, will be Molly Johnson on April 1, 2020.

“Molly Johnson is a Juno Award winner,” Payne said.

“She’s a member of the Order of Canada. She had a band called Alta Moda in the ’80s, and they did Julian, which was a big hit. In the ’90s she was with The Infidels. Now, she’s gotten into more jazz.”
Johnson has also performed alongside artists like Tom Cochrane, Tom Jones and Blue Rodeo.

Passports are still available for the 2019-2020 Tour de Fort season, and will be sold at both Rainy Lake Square shows in August.

The passports are available at the pre-season price of $110 until Sept. 1.