The Backstays | Harvest Jazz & Blues Festival 2018 | Stingray Rising Stars

By: ArianeFri, 09/21/2018
Harvest Jazz&Blues Festival - The Backstays

Harvest Jazz & Blues Festival takes place each year in Fredericton's beautiful and historic downtown. This year Stingray Music was honoured to sponsor again the Stingray Rising Stars competition.

The festival which ran this year from September 11th to the 16th is one of Atlantic Canada’s largest annual jazz and blues festivals. HJBF seeks out to promote, preserve and encourage interest in the cultural appreciation and performance of jazz and blues by presenting the best in established and up-and-coming talents. Fredericton comes alive for six days each September as hundreds of world class performers appear on dozens of stages, all conveniently located in Fredericton's beautiful and historic downtown.

An online voting page was set up to have the public vote for their favourite artist. This year’s finalists were:


The Stingray Rising Stars Competition took place in the Atlantic Lottery Barracks Tent, the festival's all ages venue, on Friday September 14 from 1 PM to 4 PM. The Backstays, a five-piece, fog-steeped, roots-infused indie band from Saint John (NB), were chosen through a two-tiered process of peer assessment and online voting. Stingray Music awarded the winning band with a $1,500 bursary to advance their career and each contestant received a promotional video for their own use of their Stingray Rising Stars performance. Close to 5,000 people voted online this year and the winner was announced, Friday, September 14 at 4PM. Thank you to all who cast their votes online and who came to watch the finalists showcase performances at the Atlantic Lottery Barracks Tent!

“The Backstays displayed their growing maturity as a group by showing up fully prepared and putting on an exceptional performance. We hope this “win” gives them a boost of confidence and some additional notoriety that helps accelerate their opportunities in the music business and the pursuit of their musical dreams!” said Brent Staeben, Harvest’s music director.

Congrats again to The Backstays and all finalists!

About the winners:

We sat down with Pete Johnston here from The Backstays (vocals, guitar) to tell us more about their win:

What is your earliest musical memory?

“My earliest musical memory is ‘Up On Cripple Creek’ by The Band. My parents are big fan of those guys and so am I. I remember that being my favourite song as a tiny little kid. Either that or some version of ‘Tell Me Ma’ that my mum sang around the house. Hard to say.”

Where/When did you start playing professionally?

“We started rehearsing in January 2018 in our rehearsal space on Union Street in Saint John (New-Brunswick). We didn’t do a show until June, so it’s only been a few months doing shows together. But most of the band has been playing music on a semi-professional level for years in other projects.”

Who are your main influences?

“Our influences vary but there’s some consistent musicians that we all love like Joel Plaskett, Alvvays, the Smiths, Bruce Springsteen, and the War on Drugs.”

How did you come to play at the Harvest Jazz & Blues Festival?

“We came to Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival’s Stingray Rising Stars by applying after we had a string of shows and an EP released. We really didn’t expect it but we’re some happy.”

What do you plan to do with the Stingray Rising Stars bursary?

“We are going to use it to get some gear we’ve needed for a long time and use anything left to put towards our Maritimes tour in the next couple of months. It’s really a huge help.”

If you’re in the Atlantic region this Autumn, make sure to follow them and check out one of their shows

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