With three months still remaining until the actual festival, Haligonians can get their Pride vibe on this weekend at Coconut Grove. The third annual wants you to taste the forbidden fruit. The tropical-themed frenzy celebrates music and all things queer.
“I’m trying to get grass skirts for everyone,” says Ryan MacGrath, the event’s organizer and performer. “Since it’s gays in the grove, it will have a more laid back feel. Think homos in Hell [last year’s Rockin’ the Gaybourhood theme] meets gay Hawaii.”
MacGrath just returned from his first tour, as he travelled with producer and musician Don MacKay from Nova Scotia through New Brunswick, Quebec and Ontario. The twosome waved their travel fees by performing two sets on the train, one on the way up and another on the way back.
“We had a fabulous time, I can’t wait to do again,” he says. “We opened up for Buck 65 at the Black Sheep. It was amazing. I don’t think Buck 65 fans were expecting us, but it seemed to work.”
Just as he’s settling back into the swing of things at home, MacGrath is busy finding audacious floral decorations and finalizing line-ups for the musical portion of Halifax Pride.
As it stands, Under The Big Top, Pride’s songwriter’s showcase, is set to feature Christina Martin, Kim Wempe, Ruth Minnikin and Rae Spoon. MacGrath couldn’t go on record, but he did drop a few hints at the buzz names tossed around for the big post-parade concert at the Garrison Grounds on Citadel Hill. Think shutter speeds and sneaky photographers.
“I’d like to open up a dialogue between the music community and the gay community,” explains MacGrath, who has helped to hand pick each act performing at all of these upcoming events. “I’d like to bring my two worlds together. Generally I don’t think a lot of the gay community supports the music community.
“Also, I think it gives an opportunity to open the audience up for the musicians as well, who may not be gay, but are supportive.”
After sucking back a fancy summery drink, stick that mini parasol behind your ear and toss your Hawaiian lay to the wind, as this weekend’s Gays in the Grove is sure to inspire some hula dancing, a conga line and perhaps some arched-backs if a limbo stick is nearby.
“It’s more singer-songwriter based this year. Last year we were working with the connotations of hell, thanks to the Hell’s Kitchen. Acts like the Rhythm Method and the Ukeladies were on the bill. It’s definitely a wide-range of musical backgrounds.”
This year’s Rockin’ the Gaybourhood line-up features sultry songstress Pamela Underwater and band, Ria Mae & Friends, Caledonia’s Steve Gates, Heavy Blinkers Jason Michael MacIsaac and Melanie Stone, ethereal folky Mary-Grace Koile and MacGrath, both accompanied by full bands.