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Coronavirus: uplifting music floats on Saskatchewan lake

The idea to have a floating musical performance on a Saskatchewan lake turned into six concerts during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The idea to have a floating musical performance on a Saskatchewan lake turned into six concerts during the COVID-19 pandemic. Velda Court / Supplied

The novel coronavirus pandemic didn’t stop the music at a Saskatchewan lake this summer.

Organizer Velda Court said a free concert series on Candle Lake was born out of elevating the moods of people in challenging times while keeping physical distancing in mind.

Read more: Coronavirus: Jazz festival organizers bring live music back to Saskatoon riverbank

“COVID this year put a damper on everything so this was a way for people to get together and still be socially distant … and just have some family time and forget about everything that’s happening in the world right now,” she said.

The owner of Gator’s Grub Food Boat came up with the idea with her friend, Clint Moroz.

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“(He) plays guitar and sings and wanted a place here at the lake where he has a spot for the summer and there is no place for him to play … I said, ‘well, I’m not out with the food boat right now. Let’s just have a music party on the boat and invite family and friends and whoever shows up on their boat then so be it,’” Court said.

“‘It doesn’t matter if there’s two or 20 people (as long as) we’re all socially distant’ and that’s how it started.”

How does one approach having a floating concert venue?

“I had all the seats out already because I put the kitchen on there and then we had another pontoon boat so we could kind of be socially distant,” Court explained.

“What we did with the local talent … they were picked up by jet ski, either off land or off their boat, and brought to the second boat where they waited until that person that was singing was done. And they got escorted by jet ski back to their boat.”

Musicians perform at one of Gator’s Boat Concerts on Candle Lake.
Musicians perform at one of Gator’s Boat Concerts on Candle Lake. Velda Court / Supplied

Court said it was trial and error at first.

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“The first time we had the concerts … we faced some challenges. We didn’t pull in enough to put the sea legs down and we had two anchors and it just kept going around in a circle. So it was just one speaker and you could hear us and then you couldn’t,” she said.

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“Sound doesn’t carry as good as we thought it would but we live and learn with each concert.

“We had the first one June 27 and we got such positive feedback asking when we’re going to have another one. So we did another one … we ended up having six this summer.” 

Click to play video 'Northern Saskatchewan teen discovers his outlet through music' Northern Saskatchewan teen discovers his outlet through music
Northern Saskatchewan teen discovers his outlet through music

With the aid of sound equipment borrowed from Saskatoon volunteers, Court said they had it all figured out and nothing would ruin the last show on Sept. 5 during the Labour Day long weekend.

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“(Weather) was good until the last day. We ended up getting rained out … we ended up having that one on land at Sandy Bay so people could still come up with their boats on the beach but a lot of the locals and the seniors that don’t get out on boats got to see that one so that was good,” Court said.

“We did get rained out so one out of six isn’t bad.”

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Court said attendance started small and then began to build tempo as the summer went on.

“The first one wasn’t too big. We probably had 20, 25 boats. Not many people had heard of it and then the second one got a little more. By August long weekend, we quit counting at over 200 boats,” Court said.

“And with all the beaches around because we did it at Waskateena (beach) …  we figure about 3,000 people in total.”

A view from one of Gator’s Boat Concerts this summer on Candle Lake.
A view from one of Gator’s Boat Concerts this summer on Candle Lake. Velda Court / Supplied

The response for the inaugural concert series was overwhelming, Court said.

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“The feedback from the community was just unbelievable and a lot of people said it put Candle Lake back on the map again,” she said.

“This definitely brought people back to the lake so the support is unbelievable … It’s kind of overwhelming.”

With the concerts covering a range of music genres, Court said the local musicians were the headliner.

“The local talent just watching them improve from the end of June till September … some of them, they cancelled because they were so anxious. They had never sang at a mic before,” she said.

“I know one boy went out and bought a new guitar. He said he can continue on and do it next year again. And the improvement that those kids did … the crowd was all with them so it was great but I can’t say enough about both the local talent coming out and supporting us and the fans at the lake.”

Court said the plan is to bring the event back for next summer.

Candle Lake is approximately 220 kilometres north of Saskatoon.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

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To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out. In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus. In some provinces and municipalities across the country, masks or face coverings are now mandatory in indoor public spaces.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here. 

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