The Niagara Falls New Year’s Eve show this year will see the return of a live national broadcast and a line-up of all Canadian musicians, but it won’t see any local acts take the stage.
The scheduled acts are Marianas Trench, Simple Plan, James Barker Band and Jess Moskaluke.
Rafik Guirguis, a longtime music promoter from Niagara Falls and creator of Livestock Niagara music festival, said although he understands the pressure the city is up against to meet broadcast contracts with CBC, he thinks there should be at least one local band in the mix.
“I get what they’re trying to do. They’re trying to make it a little more mainstream so they can get that television appeal. And it’s smart and it’s the right thing to do, but it’s easy to get caught up in all that and then forget about all the local musicians at the same time,” said Guirguis.
“There's one thing the mayor always says during his graduation speech at high schools, etcetera — ‘go out, and learn, and bring that talent back to Niagara.’ … well, if that's the case, then the city needs to put it's money where it's mouth is … Those are all of my thoughts on that subject matter.”
Guirguis, who makes it part of his mission to see local musicians get paying gigs at Livestock, asked Mayor Diodati why there isn’t any local act this year via a public Facebook post on Friday.
At the time of writing this the mayor had not responded.
Guirguis said the point of his post wasn’t to lay shame on the fact the city wasn’t able to book local musicians this year, but to encourage plans to include local music in the future.
“They (the city) have a once-a-year event that sheds the light on our town — it's our opportunity to showcase everything Niagara, to really sell our town in order to generate year round publicity and economic growth,” said Guirguis.
“That's how you grow a local economy — by generating work through opportunities … I hope one day I’m in a position where I’m part of a committee so I can help in that aspect. I don’t think it’s that hard to negotiate with the broadcasting company to lay support on even just one local band every New Year’s Eve.”
As far as the line-up goes in general this year, Guirguis said he thinks the acts are “a little dated.”
“I get what they’re trying to do … I don’t think it’s a bad thing if you’re trying to appeal to a wide television audience,” said Guirguis. “Some of these contracts are pretty finicky.”
He said he would have liked to see “more relevant” acts like the Arkells or City and Colour.
He continued: “To me, it's obvious. We have the talent, money and potential infrastructure to prop up our best musicians, to help them grow to a point where they will be able to return the investment by performing in our hometown — such as City and Colour.”
Mayor Diodati told Niagara Now when the bands were announced in November that the city had to follow strict guidelines to secure the CBC broadcast.
“That limits the amount of choices you have,” he said, with regards to the selection of bands this year.