Rockin' the Big House
Get Ready to ROCK in The BIG HOUSE as the United Way Brings the First-ever Public Concert to Kingston Penitentiary This Historic Concert will bring some of the finest Canadian talent together featuring:
Special appearance by members of the Tragically Hip: Paul Langlois, Gord Sinclair, Rob Baker
visitkingston.ca presents ROCKIN' THE BIG HOUSE, in support of United Way of KFL&A, the first-ever public concert to be held on the grounds of the oldest penitentiary in Canada, Kingston Penitentiary.
On September 14, 2019, 2,500 lucky music lovers, history buffs and curiosity seekers will walk through the gates of Kingston Penitentiary to experience an outdoor music festival like no other, in support of United Way of KFL&A.
This is a rain-or-shine, 19+ event. Gates open at 4:30pm. Show times begin at 6pm.
- Standing room - no chairs to be brought into the venue.
- Food, wine, beer will be available for sale. A water truck will be onsite with drinking water.
- Limited parking; Kingston Transit buses will be running through the evening.
- The event will strive for a low carbon footprint - no single use water bottles.
- Single entry - no exit and re-entry will be permitted.
- Tickets $75 inclusive of service charge - SOLD OUT!
Guests at the show will enjoy live music, specialty food trucks and restaurants, featuring Otter Creek Farms Food Truck. Other food vendors include:
- Pita Pit
- Smokin' Carnivore
- Curry Original
- Al Douglas
Spearhead Brewing Co., a local craft brewery, is generously donating all beer and proceeds from beer sales to the United Way. Other beer vendors include:
- MacKinnon Brothers
- Kingston Brewing Company
- Stone City Ales
The event is made possible through partnerships with the City of Kingston, St. Lawrence Parks Commission, Correctional Service Canada as well as lead sponsors Otter Creek Farms and Spearhead Brewing Co., platinum sponsors Bergeron Clifford Injury Lawyers and J.E. Agnew Food Services Inc., gold sponsor Sousa Ready Mix Inc.
About Kingston Penitentiary
Kingston Penitentiary is known for housing some of Canada's most notorious criminals. Since the Kingston Penitentiary was shuttered in 2013, Corrections Canada has been working in conjunction with the City of Kingston and St. Lawrence Park Commission to offer public tours of the facility. These tours have been incredibly successful, selling out months in advance of tour dates - highlighting the public's thirst and curiosity for what went on behind the giant stonewalls. In fact, almost 230,000 people have been through the doors of the Kingston Penitentiary for touring purposes. The net profit is split between the United Way of Kingston Frontenac Lennox & Addington and marketing efforts by the St. Lawrence Parks Commission and Tourism Kingston.
Rockin’ the big house lineup:
Founded in Kingston over 25 years ago, this will be somewhat of a homecoming for the iconic Canadian rock band led by enigmatic singer and actor Hugh Dillon (Flashpoint, Twin Peaks, Wind River). Headstones have had a long and established career in the Canadian music scene with hits such as "Smile & Wave" and "Tweeter and the Monkey Man". Headstones just came off a successful cross-country tour in 2018 and have recently been recording their next record in Bath, Ontario
Very Special Guest : Tom Cochrane
An iconic career which started in the pubs and rough neck bars off the highways of Ontario, then Canada and the the world, has spanned over 4 decades and is characterized by creative, musical and personal integrity. A few years into his tenure with Red Rider, they graduated to larger venues, halls, arenas and Festival stages. With and without Red Rider, Tom has released 17 albums and remains only one of 3 male artists to have a diamond certified album in Canada (over 1,000,000 Copies sold
Throughout his career, Tom has thrown his support behind a wide range of worthy causes. He has traveled the world, including Africa 9 times and Asia twice on behalf of World Vision, has performed at Live 8 and, in Tears Are Not Enough video and entertained the troops in Afghanistan. He endorses and supports Waterkeeper’s Alliance, Amnesty International, War Child, Medicin Sans Frontiers, World Animal Protection and The United Way.
Canadian rock music darlings formed in Antigonish, Nova Scotia in 1997 have five albums to their name including their latest 2018 release, Civillianaires. With songs such as "Not Ready to Go", "Hope and Ruin" and "Highway of Heroes" they quickly made inroads in to the hearts of Canadian music fans.
The Pursuit of Happiness
Toronto's Pursuit of Happiness serves as a vehicle for the wry romantic ponderings of singer/guitarist/songwriter Moe Berg and plays a brand of power-pop influenced by Todd Rundgren who produced their first two albums.
TPOH has just come off the road from a sold out tour celebrating 30 years since their debut record LOVE JUNK, featuring their hit single "I'm An Adult Now
Kingston-based alt-rock outfit Kasador spent their first 3 years cutting their teeth on the road, garnering attention from their engaging and high-energy live performances. Duelling vocals and dynamic guitars provide a strong base for the band, rooted in rock and funk. Kasador wrote and self-produced their debut 2016 EP ‘KASADOR’, which they toured extensively through Canada and the USA. Since, the band released a follow up 2-track single titled ‘Come Get Yer Money’ in 2017. Both tracks are featured on their upcoming full length, titled ‘Brood & Bloom’ produced by The Tragically Hip’s Gord Sinclair and Rob Baker - an album written through tough times.
Date: Sept 14, 2019
Location: The Kingston Penitentiary
The prison that once held some of Canada’s most notorious criminals will be hosting some of the country’s best-known musicians for a fundraiser this fall.
“Rockin’ the Big House” will see the Headstones, the Trews, the Pursuit of Happiness, and Kasador — along with special guests Paul Langlois, Gord Sinclair and Rob Baker of The Tragically Hip, and Tom Cochrane — perform inside the walls of the now-closed Kingston Penitentiary on Sept. 14 in support of the local chapter of the United Way. Each of the bands is playing for free.
Tickets for the event go on sale May 11 and will be available online through rockinthebighouse.ca and ticketmaster.ca. There will be a limited number of gold tickets, which offer a closed-off section with separate food and beverage service as well as portable washrooms, for sale, while general admission tickets will be $75 apiece. Platinum tickets sold to sponsors were gone within a day.
Organizers expect tickets, which they hope will raise at least $250,000, will sell out quickly. The concert, for which a total of 2,500 tickets will be sold, is to take place outdoors in the courtyard closest to King Street.
“It’s like a natural amphitheatre,” Joanne Langlois, one of the event’s organizers, said.
The concert succeeds United Way’s Fare for Friends fundraiser, which wrapped up last year after a quarter-century.
Bhavana Varma, president and chief executive officer of United Way of Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington, remembered talking with Langlois, one of the founders of Fare for Friends, and Pat Murphy, chair of the United Way’s 2017 campaign, about what kind of fundraiser should come next.
“We started brainstorming about what could replace it,” Varma said. “We still wanted some food and wine and beer, but we wanted it to be a little different. We thought about how we could shake it up. And then, when we were looking at different venues, we started talking about music, because music and Kingston are so intertwined. And then Joanne threw out the idea about the Kingston Pen.”
There was already a connection between Correctional Service Canada and the United Way, as the former has directed proceeds from the popular Kingston Penitentiary tours to the latter.
“It just seemed like we should float this idea and see where it goes,” Varma said.
Last month, Scott Harris, regional deputy commissioner of Correctional Service Canada and a longtime supporter of the local United Way, was named the chair for the 2019 United Way campaign.
“We figured that with the involvement of the United Way, the community, and the people involved, that we would be able to get that to happen with Scott (Harris), and it was a slam dunk,” Murphy said. “We’re over the moon about it.”
Langlois and Murphy — who, along with Chris Murphy, are co-chairs of the event — wanted to do an event that appealed to a younger crowd, was more inclusive, and was a bit bigger in scale. It was born, in part, from that Fare for Friends farewell.
“We brought in so many amazing musicians (last fall), and that’s what put that Fare for Friends over the top. People loved the music aspect. And then we just started saying, ‘We’ve got to do something with music,’” Langlois explained. “And then it was just like, let’s start going through the Rolodex and see who might be willing. Everybody who’s playing is playing for free.”
The first band contacted was the Headstones, whose frontman, Hugh Dillon, went to high school with members of The Tragically Hip. They also share the same manager, Bernie Breen.
“We really wanted to have a Kingston connection,” Langlois said. “We felt like it would be almost a no-brainer, to play a charity concert in their hometown. Hugh hasn’t played here since 2013.”
All of the other bands in the lineup soon fell into place, and each are connected to the Hip. One of the Trews’ albums was produced by Sinclair at the Bathouse recording studio; the Pursuit of Happiness are longtime friends and guitarist Kris Abbott lives in Kingston; and one of the members of Kingston-based Kasador is Rob Baker’s son, Boris.
And, of course, Langlois felt it was important to have husband Paul, Baker and Sinclair involved.
“It just seems like, I don’t know, the historic band should be acknowledged at the historic venue at a historic concert,” she said. “It can’t be like it was, but it’s just nice to have them be a part of it in some way.”
“You know the guys. They’re all so giving. They come to the forefront no matter what it is,” Murphy said, noting how the Hip typically donate the proceeds from their shows here to charity. “It’s all about Kingston, Kingston, Kingston, and it’s amazing to see the connections and friendships as these (other musicians) just jumped right on board.”
Langlois and Murphy hope “Rockin’ the Big House” is the start of what will be another flagship fundraiser. While the venue might change, the hope is the “Rockin’” brand will remain regardless of where the event is held.
“We want to make this event so great for everyone,” Langlois explained, adding that they have brought in a professional festival organizer to ensure it runs smoothly. “The artists’ experience has to be top notch, the concertgoers’ has to be top notch, and the sponsors’ experience has to be top notch. And we’re going to do everything we can so that people line up to be part of the event in the coming years.”