Sudbury’s urban art and music festival is gearing up for its eighth year – and its first full-scale event in two years.
Up Here will be returning to Sudbury from Aug. 19 to 21, and will be bringing in a slate of musical up-and-comers and experimentalists, alongside a host of talented muralists to bring more vibrant art to the city’s downtown core.
According to festival co-founder Christian Pelletier, this year’s event will feature not only the return of audience favourites, like late night shows at the Townhouse Tavern, but also some brand new and unique musical acts.
“With the opening of Place des Arts, we finally have a venue of that size that we can book,” he said. “There’s a bunch of artists we’ve been wanting to program for years, but just didn’t have the right setting within the downtown core to do that.”
The festival will bring in a wide ranges of artists from across multiple genres, including headliners like Toronto hip-hop artists DijahSB and Exmiranda, and Congo rapper and singer Pierre Kwenders, as well as horrorcore metal artist Backxwash, among over a dozen others.
Pelletier said that like most years, the variety of musicians provides something for everything to enjoy and offers plenty of opportunities for audiences to discover new music styles to love.
“The festival always changes, but I think that’s the one constant,” he said. “What people have come to expect is that it is unexpected. There’s a lot of surprises.”
Pelletier also said that this year, they would be retiring some of their original murals and painting them over with new ones from artists across the north.
Many of the festival’s original murals, he said, have faded over the years, and some have aged better than others. One of its very first murals, which was painted it 2015 in front of the YMCA, will be one of the murals painted over this year, by brother duo Greg and Chris Mitchell of Born in the North.
“When (Up Here) started, it was really about just beautifying the downtown core and bringing cool art to the area,” he said. “But it’s not just about aesthetics; it’s about challenging peoples perspectives. It’s about creating a dialogue about certain difficult issues.”
He added, “We really see public art as ephemeral and something that needs to constantly be changing. So it’s kind of interested to be putting these walls back into rotation, which is something we haven’t done before.”
This year’s collection of new murals will emphasize works by Indigenous artists from across the region, curated by Indigenous artist Anong Migwans Beam from M’Chigeeng First Nation on Manitoulin Island.
Among the artists who will be featured is two-dimensional mixed-media artist Christian Chapman of Fort William First Nation, and artist Alex Bierk whose work documents his experiences in small-town Ontario dealing with addiction, loss, and new fatherhood.
Pelletier added that anyone attending the festival should keep their ear to the ground while they’re there. A number of surprise pop-up performances will be taking place around downtown throughout the weekend, and will be announced through the Up Here app.
“We really see this as a holy trilogy between an artist, a space and an artist, and something the space is very surprising,” he said. “There will be a lot of those kinds of surprises sprinkled throughout the festival experience.”
The Up Here Festival will run Friday, Aug. 19, to Sunday, Aug. 21. Tickets to all concerts are now available online at www.uphere.com/tickets, where festival-goers can also find information about purchasing Passports to gain priority access to over 40 concerts.
Full details about the festivals schedule, musical artists, and muralists are available at www.uphere.com.
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Mia Jensen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Sudbury Star