I’ve been to Medicine Hat before and already know that it’s a bit of a hotbed for music festivals — it’s just far enough from Calgary and Edmonton that the community has had to develop an arts scene of its own to keep people busy. The city, which is a couple of hours east of Calgary hosts a stellar jazz festival in the summer and is also known for having an oddly high number of particularly good coffee shops located in its small downtown. But, Medicine Hatters need something to do during the cold and particularly boring Alberta winters too. For that, they have the Tongue on the Post Music Festival, which takes place from January 23-28.
Tongue on the Post is a winter folk fest that takes place in the Hat for nearly a week in January. Though the fest has been happening for about a decade, the whole idea of a winter fest seems to be catching on. Calgary now has the Block Heater fest hosted by the Calgary Folk Music Festival and Prince George, BC has its Coldsnap festival — but Tongue on the Post in Medicine Hat seems to have its own thing going on.
You can read about some of the details in a piece I wrote for FestivalSeekers. The majority of the action takes place at Medalta Potteries, which is one of my favourite places on Southern Alberta. A cornerstone of Medicine Hat’s original economy, it used to be a working pottery factory (making the best bean pots, large crocks, and war-time dishes) but now it’s a museum and a cultural hub for the city. The festival divides it up into several stages (including one in the round kiln rooms, which are acoustically outstanding) which not only keeps audiences warm and toasty inside (the Alberta winter is a doozy) but also lets them revel in a historic setting.
Of course, there’s also a food element, as there is with any good music event. Smaller shows will be held at some of the aforementioned coffee shops to bring some of the festival spirit right into downtown Medicine Hat. Even better, one of the showcase events of the festival is the annual Supper and a Show event, which takes place at the beautiful Esplanade Theatre. The audience gets to dine to the sounds of Roger Roger (from Winnipeg) and then move into the theatre for a performance from the New North Collective. Because nothing beats music and food.
This year’s festival features performances by the likes of Samson’s Delilah, Ryland Moranz, Richard Inman, and dozens of others. For more information, check out that FestivalSeekers story or visit the Tongue on the Post website.
This post is in support of a story I contributed to FestivalSeekers, which I was paid to write.