Coal Shed Music Festival to be held in Yarmouth for 10th year, starts Aug. 12

Eric Bourque
Published on July 28, 2016

Phil DeMille, founder and coordinator of the Coal Shed Music Festival, on the Coal Shed stage on the Yarmouth waterfront.

YARMOUTH, N.S.  – When Phil DeMille decided to launch a new music event in Yarmouth, some people wondered whether he would have enough acts to fill two days. DeMille remembers how he responded to the question.

“My reaction was ‘I really don’t know, but I’d like to try,’” DeMille recalled.

That was in 2007, when the Coal Shed Music Festival made its debut. DeMille’s creation, which is about to be held for the 10th straight year, has grown to a nine-day event spread over three weekends. This year’s festival dates are Aug. 12-14, Aug. 19-21 and Aug. 26-28.

Held on the Yarmouth waterfront, the festival features a wide variety of music, with musicians from both the tri-county region and beyond. This year’s headliners include Laura Smith, Hal Bruce, Vic Mullen, Naming the Twins, Andrew Hunter and Manitoba Hal.

The festival also is a chance for lesser-known artists to take the stage.

“Maybe you’ll come in here and see a total unknown up there and say to yourself ‘boy, that person’s got talent,’” DeMille said. “The exposure thing, to me, is one of the main reasons why we do this, aside from the fundraising part.”

Again this year, the festival will benefit the Yarmouth Food Bank and local school breakfast programs.

DeMille feels there is still growth potential for the festival, but for now it remains a nine-day affair.

“We have tried our best to pack in as much as we can put in nine days,” DeMille said.

Festival organizers have added some more kitchen parties, which DeMille says are pretty popular. This year there will be six of them.

The festival includes a youth talent showcase, which DeMille says they’ve promoted more this year.

Organizers also have expanded the festival’s Sunday night concerts.

One of the things that set the Coal Shed event apart from other music festivals, DeMille said, is that there is no admission fee. People are welcome to donate to the food bank or breakfast programs, but they don’t have to.

How many people will take part in this year’s festival? DeMille had a chance to think about it recently.

“I estimated one night – we were figuring it out at home – there will be over 150 musicians involved in some way or other, whether it be through the kitchen parties or through the actual stage performances,” he said. “That’s a low estimate.”

Click here to see the schedule for the Coal Shed Festival.