Local business owner Derek Forsyth, left, and Craig Johnson, executive director of the Colchester East Hants Hospice Society, sit at one of the tables at the Civic Square in downtown Truro. Forsyth and his wife, Jenna Tingley Forsyth, are hosting a three-day rock festival in August at the square through their business Salty Dog Brewing Company, and the festival is supporting the hospice society. Raissa Tetanish – Hub Now

TRURO – An upcoming rock festival is all about the bigger picture.

From Aug. 24 to 26, Rock the Hub will feature some large names in the rock music scene, and local business owners are the organizers behind the project.

“It’s to bring people to the downtown,” said Derek Forsyth, who is hosting the event along with his wife, Jenna Tingley Forsyth, through their business Salty Dog Brewing Company. “This is not a money-making exercise, it’s about the big picture so investing in our downtown is essential.”

Last year, the couple hosted the inaugural Rock the Hub over two days. Forsyth said it was the wrong time of year to host it – it was at the end of September – so they’ve been working since November on this year’s three-day event.

“We want people to get off the highway, get off Robie Street, and come to the downtown core,” said Forsyth.

The festival, which will feature musical acts such as Sloan, Big Wreck, and I Mother Earth, will be held outdoors at the new Civic Square. The event will see a donation made to the Colchester East Hants Hospice Society, much the same as it did last year.

“Derek and all of his businesses have been involved in hospice in a number of different ways,” said Craig Johnson, the hospice society’s executive director. “I fully support what people are doing to bring new businesses and new people to the area. Getting new people off the highway…it’s very, very important to do that.”

Rock the Hub will feature Big Wreck and Sloan on its first night, with I Mother Earth, Finger Eleven, and The Motorleague on night two. The closing night will feature Matt Mays, Adam Baldwin, and Wintersleep. A third act for the Friday night lineup is in the process of being booked.

Forsyth said both the Downtown Truro Partnership and Town of Truro has been helpful in the organization of the festival, which will coincide with the Cobequid Dance Academy’s B-Side hiphop festival that same weekend. A portion of the downtown will be closed for the duration of the festival, with street vendors and food trucks a possibility.

“When you combine all those things, it will help grow the festival,” said Forsyth.

Supporting hospice through this event, as well as another on June 30 featuring Joel Plaskett, Mo Kenney, and Alert the Medic, was a no-brainer for the Forsyths.

“There are so many charities in town. Hospice is around the corner from (Salty Dog), and it affects everyone,” he said. “It has the potential to help everyone.”

Johnson said hospice receives no government funding, so projects such as Rock the Hub make a big impact.

“Even with just the awareness,” he said. “It gets us out there. We’ll have a booth set up and we’ll have a chance to talk to people out there.”

Johnson, who has been involved in the local music scene for years including the chairman of the host committee for Nova Scotia Music Week in the past, said it’s a bit of a “throwback” to see some of the musicians in the lineup.

“I’m thrilled to see some of these in my hometown,” he said. “Truro is starting to gain a reputation for hosting these kinds of things, and the doors are really starting to open up here.”

Forsyth said it’s important to stay involved in the community as a business owner.

“You have to give back to the community,” he said, adding it feels good when the business community can give $8,100 to the Truro Homeless Outreach Society, such as they did in February following Truro Burger Week. “It’s a lot of work sometimes, but it feels good. We don’t have the wear withal to give that ourselves, but we have the ability to create these events. Plus, they’re fun.”

Having the business community’s support is essential to helping build a compassionate community, Johnson says.

“It takes everybody. Having small business owners stepping up makes all the difference,” he added.

Tickets for Rock the Hub are available at the Nook and Cranny, Salty Dog Brewing Company, MacQuarries Pharmasave on the Esplanade, and through Ticketpro.


In Flight Safety pulls out of Rock the Hub lineup due to lack of diversity

TRURO – Nova Scotia-based rockers In Flight Safety are taking a stand for gender diversity after the lineup for Rock the Hub was announced.

In Flight Safety was on the bill for the Aug. 24-26 event in downtown Truro, however frontman John Mullane announced the band would be pulling from the lineup due to lack of diversity.

On social media, Mullane wrote he’d been feeling out of sorts since the lineup was announced.

“I have found myself apologizing to close friends for another all-male (not to mention nearly all-white) lineup,” his post reads. “Apologizing isn’t enough. By being part of this festival I am doing harm (no matter how small) to close friends and a tight-knit music community I hold very dear.”

Mullane said he didn’t mean any disrespect to other bands on the bill, but he hoped his gesture would help move this “evolving conversation” forward.

“Maybe that same conversation will prompt more critical thinking in regards to diversity when booking concerts or festivals or performing at them,” he wrote.

Forsyth issued a statement following In Flight Safety’s withdrawing, and confirmed he’s working on filling that slot, which was for opening night along with Sloan and Big Wreck. The statement says the band’s views are respected.

“We consider ourselves lucky to live in a society where free speech and opinions are part of our culture,” the written statement reads. “As small business owners of several live music venues, we support musicians in a wide range of genres. We applaud those who choose the music industry and we will continue to support them in any way we can.”

The statement says the couple are proud to have showcased hundreds of artists, while they look forward to many more in the future.

“Representation of musicians across race and gender, as a reflection of our diverse community, is an important topic worthy of discussion, and we are open to examining our role in how we can best represent Canadian artists. We want our community to be great, and we will continue to dedicate ourselves to doing our part to make that happen. We appreciate the opportunity to reflect on the feedback, which will inform our current and future decision making.”