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Kazoo! Fest says Goodbye

Dear friends, 

As we settle into 2020, we have some big news to share: Kazoo! Fest 2020 will be our last. We are not announcing this news with sadness or any regrets. Instead, we are sharing this decision with our hearts full of gratitude as we reflect on the past 14 years, and wide-eyed optimism as we look towards the future. 

So why are we calling it now? As you can imagine, there are countless reasons, but the short answer is that it simply felt like the right time. When we started Kazoo! back in 2006, there wasn’t a plan. At the time, Guelph’s music scene needed a music platform and community like Kazoo! and a group of idealistic community-minded musicians got together to put something in motion. We had some rough ideas about what we wanted: to include artists across a range of genres and mediums, to make our cover prices affordable (PWYC if possible), to provide local and touring bands a platform, and perhaps most importantly, to focus on community-building. So we booked some bands, made a poster, and put Kazoo! #1 in the corner. The project could have lasted a few weeks or a few years maybe; we had no roadmap, and certainly no idea that Kazoo! would evolve into the thriving community it’s become 14 years later. 

Kazoo! has always been a labour of love, anchored by a small group of dedicated music fans who’ve put their hearts and minds into this project alongside the hundreds (and more likely thousands) of people who’ve volunteered over the years. We’ve accomplished some pretty incredible things together including 12 city-wide festivals and over 300 shows as part of our year-round music series. We’ve hosted hundreds (potentially thousands) of artists ranging from local bands playing their first shows to international cult legends. Folk, Punk, Hip-Hop, Electronic, Experimental, R&B, Indie Rock, Jazz, Noise, and every half-baked genre name in-between have been represented at Kazoo! shows over the years. Our events have happened in every kind of space imaginable: warehouses, churches, coffee shops, boxing gyms, vintage shops, parks, galleries, and of course more traditional music venues like eBar. We’ve had packed shows, empty shows, breakfast shows, house shows, PWYC shows, and every kind of show we could dream up. And it hasn’t always been just music: The Kazoo! Print Expo, Short&Sweet, Guelph Night Market, and countless multimedia and visual art collaborations with Ed Video Media Arts Centre have pushed boundaries and explored the connections between different artistic mediums. Through all of this, rarely did we ever stop and question why Kazoo! existed, the answer was always self-evident in the inspiring community surrounding our events.  

Now, after 14 amazing years, 2020 feels like the right time for us to step aside. Though it may feel like a hole will be left in Guelph’s music scene without Kazoo! Fest, we believe that by stepping aside now, we are making space for new generations of dreamers, punks, and diverse creative thinkers to book shows, create festivals, and invent radical new ways of sharing ideas and art. The folks behind Kazoo! are not leaving, and we will remain a resource for show bookers and community organizers. We recognize that as a group we have a lot of experience and knowledge about things like grant writing, venue booking, safer spaces training, and other skills related to organizing events that we can share.

Guelph is lucky to have so many incredible grassroots organizers, festivals, and DIY show promoters who are out there every day putting up show posters, loading PA’s, stamping hands, and putting on events simply because they love music and want to share it. Organizations like Girls Rock Camp Guelph and Holy Smokes, among countless other groups and organizations, are fighting for a more open, equitable, and accessible music scene. And while we don’t have enough accessible venues or affordable practice spaces, and the cost of living continues to rise, we know that Guelph’s music community is powerful, creative, and resourceful. It’s a community that we are continually humbled by and one that we’re honoured to be a part of. 

It’s been a wild ride, and luckily there’s still a lot more to go. Kazoo! Fest 2020 will happen April 16-19th and we have a whole lineup of shows planned into the spring. We will be sharing the Kazoo! Fest 2020 lineup in early February which will showcase new and exciting artists as well as some bands and people who helped shape Kazoo! over the years. In the coming months, we’d love to see you, whether it’s your first time coming to a Kazoo! show or if you’ve been a regular at our shows over the years. 

It’s impossible to express our gratitude to everyone who has been a part of this incredible community over the years, you know who you are. Thank you to the tireless staff, volunteers, and organizers who make things happen behind the scenes. Thank you to the incredible artists who we’ve been lucky enough to work with over the years. Thank you to the local sponsors, funders, and organizations who’ve supported us. And thanks to everyone who comes to events and supports the local music community. Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing these moments with us over the years.

It’s been an incredible trip and we’re looking forward to making a few more memories before we call it a day. 

With love, 

The Kazoo! Crew ♥ ♥

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Spoooktacular 2019