The taping of the singer/songwriter showcase as part of Live at the Library. L-R: Kimberly Sunstrum, Brock Zeman, Julie Corrigan, Keith Glass. Photo provided by Karen Bedard

Kemptville Live is up and running, bringing local music directly to fans. Although they are still unsure whether this year’s festival will be able to happen, due to the pandemic, organizer Karen Bedard says they still wanted to do something to support local artists and keep the brand alive.

To do that in a safe way, they came up with the idea of broadcasting free concerts over YouTube that people could watch while isolating at home. “We were thinking about our patrons getting through the winter months,” Karen says.

Using what was left of the $75,000 Celebrate Ontario grant that Kemptville Live received last year, they were able to rent a space in Purvis Hall on the Kemptville Campus and transform it into a professional recording studio. The money also covered the cost of paying for high-quality sound and lighting, a recording crew and, of course, paying the artists. The series of concerts is called “Live at the Library”, as Purvis Hall used to be the library at Kemptville College.

At first, their idea was to livestream the concerts; but Karen says they wanted to make sure they had the same production value that they have at the in-person event. Instead, they invited 14 featured artists into the studio over the course of four days last week to record 45-minute sets. Everyone involved was extremely excited to be working again, seeing as many of them hadn’t been even close to a stage for a year. “Our gentleman who is doing our lights, he hasn’t touched equipment in over a year and a half, and that’s what he’s been doing since he was 15 years old,” Karen says. “For 21 years what he’s been doing is lights and monitors, production, travelling the country, working every weekend. And so, for him coming in and setting up lights and everything, he was like – I’m back in my job again.”

Many of the artists who Kemptville Live engaged to be part of Live at the Library have played the festival before, but some are newcomers who Karen says they will definitely be adding to their list for future events. Apart from the 45-minute concerts, the team also recorded a singer/songwriter circle, which went really well, with the artists sharing their stories, as well as their music. “It was a real educational piece. Listening to them and learning. There’s a lot of potential there, I think, to continue that type of thing.”

The goal of Live at the Library is to keep the Kemptville Live brand top of mind for their patrons, support local musicians, and also showcase the incredible asset that is the Kemptville Campus. Karen says they were very thankful to the Campus for allowing them to use the space, which was perfect for a recording studio. “We’re part of the Kemptville Campus, and they’ve helped us out by allowing us to use the space. It’s nice for them to contribute to our success. We’re a tenant, but also this was above and beyond for them to let us showcase the Campus.”

Talent featured in the 12 shows include: MonkeyJunk, River City Junction, Dimestore Playboys, Rick Fines, Keith Glass, Brock Zeman, Tyler Kealey Band, Silver Creek, Angelina Hunter Trio, Kimberly Sunstrum, Julie Corrigan, Bonecat, Head Over Heals, and Lynne Hanson & the Good Intentions. The first show is set to air on YouTube on Thursday, March 4, at 7 pm. For more information and updates about the concerts as they are released, visit and sign up for their newsletter. You can also follow them on Facebook under Kemptville Live.

Karen hopes that Live at the Library will bring a smile to the faces of people who have been really missing the live music scene over the past year, and that the concerts reach many people in the North Grenville community and beyond. “Our goal is to give back to the community and to engage people,” she says. “Just show them that we’re here for them, hopefully bring their spirits up a little bit. In the end, I think that will turn into something that will come back to us three or four fold.”

Kemptville Live is a very successful music festival hosted on the Kemptville College grounds, which drew 24,000 people to the area over four days in 2019. The 2020 festival was cancelled due to COVID-19. This year’s festival is slated for July 22-25, however they are still waiting to see if provincial health regulations will allow them to go ahead. While Karen admits that it doesn’t look promising, the organizing committee should know whether this year’s festival will be cancelled by the end of April.



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