'Soul Nourishing': Home County Music Festival holds pop-up event

Tim Fraser hadn't listened to in-person live music in a year and a half.

The artistic director of the Home County Music and Art Festival (HCMAF) was enjoying the sunshine and warm weather Monday at Fanshawe Pioneer Village (FPV) in London, Ont. as his organization held a mini-event over the weekend with three daily performers.

"For me as well this is really kind of soul nourishing," said Fraser.

For two days, FPV's Heritage Village featured performances by local artists Noelle Frances, Renee Coughlin + Steve Plimmer, and Michael Trudgen.

"You work so hard and diligently in your spare time to create beautiful music and having a space to share it with other people is always amazing," said Trudgen, an autistic finger-style instrumental guitarist from London, Ont. "Whether it be in front of one person or looks like about 20 people here so far today."

Trudgen said he's only been able to perform a few times for gigs by the London Arts Council, and at Wildflowers Farm outdoor market near St. Thomas, Ont.

"I think the hardship when you don't get those experiences, you don't get to feed off other people's energy to see how you're writing and everything because it gives you good inspiration to keep pushing on," said Trudgen.

HCMAF made the decision in March to cancel this summer's event, and prepare for 2022.

They'd love to have been at Victoria Park Monday with temperatures in the low 20s and people enjoying the outdoors.

"Unfortunately with the nature of us being in Victoria Park it's really, really hard to control numbers," said Fraser. "You know it's next to impossible to fence off the entire park, so we made that call early on to just let's push one more year to make sure that we can kind of get on the other side of it. We want to be able to present the best version possible of the festival, so we're really excited to get back into Victoria Park next July."

Fraser said they are already working toward next summer's event.

"Starting to get artists booked for it and so that lineup announcement will be coming in the spring as it always does," said Fraser. "This opportunity kind of came to us last minute so there might be some other small little pop-up stuff with some Christmas markets potentially with some small pop up concerts, performances here and there across the city".

Trudgen would welcome the opportunity to perform more often, pleading for venues to welcome live music.

"Keep sharing your spaces everyone, we need more opportunities," said Trudgen.