City band turns lack of venues into its self-produced and thriving summer event
Maurice “Moe” Hashie, Chris Ahern, Andy Gallant and Jason Arsenault, better known as EDGE, are getting ready for the last installment in their latest Edgefest series. It has been seven years since the local rockers held its first self-produced rock event, which has turned out to be a huge success. Nancy MacPhee/Journal Pioneer
SUMMERSIDE — EDGE has found a winning formula, one that has the Summerside rockers centre stage, other bands in the mix and fans on their feet.
For seven years, the award-winning group, comprised of Maurice “Moe” Hashie on drums and vocals, Chris Ahern on lead vocals and guitar, Andy Gallant on bass and vocals and Jason Gallant on lead guitar and vocals, have played host to what has become one of the most popular small-scale concert events in the city — Edgefest.
It was an event born out of necessity, after the decline of the bar scene in the mid- 2000s, which fewer venues for bands like EDGE to play.
For three nights each summer, the boys of EDGE, along with two other selected Island bands, are living their rock and roll dreams, performing to sell-out crowds in the event, which EDGE entirely produces, right down to the stage and lights.
“It’s an event. That’s what we wanted,” said Hashie.
The event has grown so much over the years that it prompted EDGE to move its 2013 series from the Shipyard Market, its home of six years, to the Silver Fox Curling and Yacht Club, a much bigger venue, which has been packed to capacity.
It was in 1999 that EDGE first formed. All members had been in a number of bands and Arsenault, Gallant and Hashie were close friends.
Hashie decided to introduce Ahern to the fold.
As first, it didn’t seem that EDGE was going to fly, recalled Hashie.
“Our first practice was right here,” he said, in an interview from the band’s headquarters, an old warehouse in the heart of the city where the walls are plastered with KISS posters, a favourite of Ahern’s. “It didn’t gel. I was selling Chris to the guys and the guys to Chris. Jason was known as a country player in the day and Andy was the one who studied music.”
Ahern added, “When you heard it all you wondered how it was all going to come together.”
In those first few practices, it didn’t.
Then, as the boys say, something magical happened.
“We tried a few songs and we kept going, ugh,” recalled Hashie. “We happened upon on song that really worked — ‘My Own Worst Enemy by Lit’.”
It was one all the guys knew and, after the first riff, their sound was born.
EDGE played its first gig, Ahern’s brother’s wedding, and hit the local club scene, playing wherever and whenever they could.
A CD of original music, “Revelation,” was released in 2005, and the group has garnered several awards, including Music P.E.I.’s Entertainer of the Year and Weekend Warrior.
Arsenault said the close friendship between the four and respect for what each other does have been key to EDGE’s success and longevity.
“We work our butts off. I don’t just mean what you see on stage, I mean all the behind-the-scenes stuff,” said Arsenault. “Everybody has a job to do.”
After a few years in and making the rounds playing all the local watering holes, the scene started to change.
Once busy Summerside bars were closing their doors and venues were fast becoming few and far between.
“It was a scary road that was lying ahead,” said Ahern. “The bands around weren’t playing a lot. There are not a lot of venues. At the time we though there was a void.”
An idea that had been debated by the band members resurfaced — why not make an event of their own, one that starred EDGE and brought in other local bands?
Staging such a big event would take a lot of time — and money.
“Insurance is expensive. Equipment is expensive,” said Ahern. “It is just very expensive and there’s a huge risk.”
But seeing a hole in the market, EDGE took a risk.
Its first Edgefest was a sell out, with fans being turned away at the door.
“We found a little niche here that is not being utilized,” said Ahern. “At that time, when we started, there weren’t all the concerts on the Island and in Summerside. The timing was great.”
The band purchased a stage, lights and sound equipment for what is an entirely self-produced show. EDGE pays the other bands, pays all the rental fees and, since that first event seven years ago, has never been in the red.
“No one got rich,” quipped Ahern.
Each annual series features three concerts with EDGE and two other bands, including Bad Habits, Rock Bottom, Misty Water, Junkmale, Pretty Tragic, Muddy Buddy, Sunnyvale, MacBeth and others.
“We get two other bands to walk in there, on a big stage, full lights, full show and all local bands,” said Arsenault. “It gives them a venue, an awesome place to play.”
Ahern said “a good night out” is something he feels people have been missing.
“We limit how many gigs we are going to play anywhere else, as far as EDGE, so when Edgefest rolls around there is some significance to it,” said Ahern. “It’s not just, ‘hey, EDGE is playing Edgefest, but I know I can seem them three other nights a week’.”
The final Edgefest of the season goes Saturday and features NOT and Rock Bottom.
And, already, the boys are already planning the 2014 concert series.
“I would be worried if we didn’t have Edgefest over the past few years where we would be today, as band,” said Ahern. “Where is a band going to play?”