ShazamFest 2020

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ShazamFest is that crazy festival you’ve all heard about but may not yet have attended.  If you haven’t, you are missing out.

ShazamFest is the Quinceanera love child of Ziv, the only Anarchist I know who is also part of the town council.

A typical ShazamFest is a Neo Vaudeville Extravaganza with a circus, wrestling matches, freak shows, tailgate camping, food, drinks and of course live music.

Typical attendance is 2,000 including 300 kids, like a giant multi-generational family reunion.

What would have been a 15th year anniversary blowout, complete with all new creative ideas, which I will keep as a surprise till next year, ended up as a 6-day mini event over several weeks, despite COVID-19.

The 15th Anniversary will be celebrated next year, we hope, so this year was edition 14.7…an inside joke.

Shazam almost didn’t happen at all.  Ziv fought the law, and he won.

Shazam is held on his family’s farm, the first in Quebec to be certified organic.  

While Ziv may remind you of Matthew McConaughey, with is mellow demeanor and constant smile, he takes the lead in keeping this festival environmentally safe and this year, physically distancing safe.  

I heard from a few past attendees that a camp/parking lot with a thousand vehicles will be left without trash. 

Not only are there sorted trash bins, but these are re-sorted afterwards.  Last year, after 3 days, only 9 trash bags were left, 2 bags of actual garbage after the re-sorting.

We arrived early and met a few friendly regular attendees under a shade tent in the parking lot.  

After my history lesson on the festival, I wandered into the performance site to meet my host Ziv and discover the facilities.

A shallow river runs behind the stage, which I’m sure would normally be filled with children and those taking an impromptu washing session.

Among the attractions on site is a skate ramp next to the stage that needs a nursing home.  It will be replaced with a new one for next year.

There is a pirate ship, that is definitely not seaworthy, but can support a voyage floated on by children’s imagination.

Two food shacks supply reasonably priced snacks, including a delicious cheeseburger.  There is a bar with a side stage that has had legendary late-night music sessions.  

Concert

7 PM sharp was the start of the show, which was also streaming, with a passionate speech by Ziv.  

Ziv

He spoke about how we all needed this and the discussed the struggles he has had over the last 15 years to host these events, especially this series, which almost didn’t happen, if not for the daily calling to his local governmental representative.  Ziv was the squeaky wheel that got the job done.

Bloodshot Bill

First up was a Rockabilly guest:  Bloodshot Bill.  Imagine the love child of George Thorogood and Popeye The Sailor Man playing guitar and a kick drum.  

Bloodshot Bill had guests dancing pretty quickly.  Ziv created social distancing dance zones by placing pieces of wood at various places in front of the stage.  

For some, the last live music show they attended was in January, so you can just imagine this built up tension that Bill unleashed on the crowd.   

The kids were the first get the party started, but the adults soon followed.  The safety dance (did Men Without Hats predict the future?) ended up being this sort of musical chairs as dancers would dart from one dancing station to another as it would clear.  

Perfect Strangers

After the lively performance by Bloodshot Bill, Perfect Strangers graced the stage with their blend of Funk and Soul.

This was a different vibe, but dancing was infectious and even my wife and I were swept up in it.  

Perfect Strangers (actually…brothers)

The band seems to be Perfect Strangers to Google.  If you Google them, you might be reminded of the 90s show with Balki.  You will find a country band with that same name in Texas, another from Newfoundland, a Metal band from the Netherlands, a Deep Purple cover band and another band in Bangalore India.  Eventually you will find them on Bandcamp.  

They put on a fantastic show, and both brothers have an incredible set of pipes.  While most of the songs were originals, I was pleasantly surprised when the keyboardist started singing Crazy by Gnarls Barkley.  Wow.

After the encore which included the classic by Marvin Gaye Let’s Get it On, a firework show captured our attention, followed by a giant bonfire. 

It was more of a bonding fire, as we got to meet so many people, like the hilarious Snidely Wildstache.  He won Gold at the National Beard and Moustache Championships in Nashville in the natural category.

We then headed back to the parking lot and laid to rest for the night.  

Imagine if Osheaga was a little more like Woodstock and you add camping.  I can understand why those who attend once…return again and again.

After having been introduced to the Shazam family, I can now say that I can’t wait to return to the next family reunion, hopefully with a full festival schedule.

Ziv poured his heart and soul into this Festival and it shows.  Like the app that shares its name, Shazam will help you discover music and the bonus, new friends.


Review: Randal Wark is a Professional Speaker and MasterMind Facilitator with a passion for live music.  You can follow him on InstagramTwitter and YouTube. His new Podcast RockStar Today helps musicians quit their days jobs is coming soon.

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