Festival season isn’t over yet. One event music lovers in New Brunswick can’t afford to miss is Fest Forward. 


Formerly known as the New Brunswick Musician Emerge festival, Fest Forward has been making waves since its inception in 2013. 


“The vision behind the weekend was to provide emerging musicians with the tools and resources to help them advance in their music career,” shared Oscar Tecu, one of the festival organizers. 


As an artist himself, Oscar understands the challenges that musicians face, especially when it comes to navigating the business side of the industry. The festival aims to move New Brunswick musicians forward by offering professional development opportunities that accelerate their growth and development as artists. 


“Over the years, we’ve seen many of our participating artists like The Tortoise, the Hare and the Millionaire, Chillteens, Les Moontunes, Catherine Kennedy, Pallmer, Jono, the Merci Buckets and many more spread their wings and play some amazing shows and festivals around the Atlantic region including the ECMAs, Harvest Festival, Halifax Jazz, Lawnya Vawnya, and Sappy Fest,” he said. 


“Ultimately, that’s the purpose of Fest Forward; to uplift and give emerging artists the tools and resources to flourish”.


Fest Forward stands out from other festivals not only due to its unique blend of music and art but also because of its welcoming atmosphere. The festival takes place in the historic Jim Myles Auditorium, a venue brimming with character having been constructed in 1884. This setting, with its physically accessible performance space, creates an inviting atmosphere where everyone feels welcome. 


As Oscar puts it, “When people feel comfortable in a space, it creates an inviting atmosphere and people want to return to the center.”


But Fest Forward isn’t just about the music and art; it’s a community-driven event. Through the festival, emerging artists find a stage to perform on and a supportive network.


“Fest Forward helped me feel more confident with the business side of music. I love writing music and playing shows, but when it came to festival applications, grants, and all the administration side of music, it was overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be!” Said Oscar.


One of the festival’s unique features is its focus on professional development. Musicians participating in Fest Forward get a chance to work closely with seasoned veterans of the music industry. Practical workshops, skill-building sessions, professional photoshoots, and recording sessions are just a few of the offerings. 


Additionally, the festival provides artists with invaluable opportunities like marketing workshops conducted by artists like Kylie Fox and wellness sessions led by industry professionals like Stephen Hero.


“We hope to produce a welcoming and inclusive space where everyone gets to enjoy awesome local music,” says Tecu. 


Fest Forward is a place where attendees can witness the beginning of what could be their next favorite band.


This year, attendees can look forward to a singular showcase featuring an impressive lineup that includes: Calibunga, Owan Golden, Flacko Finesse, He/She/They, D’Freddy Jammers, and DW. 


The festival has also enlisted experienced musicians like Zach Atkinson from The Cap/Shivering Songs and Katie Hamill from Flourish Festival/Shivering Songs to conduct workshops, ensuring that this year’s Fest Forward promises an unforgettable experience.


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