Rocking at the Essroc
Headliner David Wilcox draws in huge crowd to arena
The Essroc Arena held its first ever music concert last Friday night, attracting over 1,500 people to see rocker David Wilcox. The concert was a joint venture between the County and MillPond Music and Entertainment, and fulfils the County’s mandate to host live music events in the arena. Lisa Lindsay, manager of Community Centres, Events and Marketing, writes in an email, “We are always looking to attract a wide range of events that will entertain residents and visitors to The County. A concert is something we have considered for some time, especially given that the Wellington and District Community Centre was built specifically to support live music events in the off-season when the ice is out.”
The choice of David Wilcox was an easy one for Greg Verner of MillPond Music. “We decided quite quickly on David Wilcox,” he says. “He’s the guy that played here in the eighties, at the Rickarton Castle, and we thought it would be nice to bring him back to Prince Edward County just so people who’d seen him in the eighties get a chance to see him again. He crosses over into the younger generation, too, with some popular songs that he’s had. So it worked perfectly for us as far as getting off the ground and starting off on the right foot.”
Both Lindsay and Verner were pleased with the turnout. “It was great to see an event attract 1,500 people to Wellington on a Friday night,” writes Lindsay. “I also noticed the concert appealed to a broad demographic; people between the ages of 19 and 80 attended the concert and enjoyed themselves.” She also wrote that the Rotary Club of Wellington provided Smart Servetrained volunteers to staff the beverage service. A portion of the proceeds will be directed towards community needs.
Local musician Griffin McGill and the band Crimson Cay opened the concert with an energetic one-hour set to get the audience in a rocking mood. They played a number of covers as well as original songs, and ended their set with a great rendition of Bobcaygeon. Lead singer McGill’s voice soared to fill the arena, delighting the appreciative crowd. During the short intermission, the sound crew brought a number of large speakers onto the stage, indicating that the music was going to get louder. And get louder it did. After a brief introduction from Verner, David Wilcox strode up to the microphone and the speakers blasted the first chords from his guitar into the cheering crowd.
Alanna Wycott and Tammy Williams made their way into the small open space in front of the stage and danced and sang along with the music. “I’ve loved David Wilcox for over 20 years,” gushed Wycott. Farther back, cousins Bev Dick and Peter Burke let the sound wash over them. “I heard him play at the Rickarton,” said Burke. “He’s as good today as he was 30 years ago.” The good vibes continued up into the seating area of the arena, with the walking track being turned into an impromptu dance floor, especially when Wilcox sang old favourites Bearcat and Riverboat Fantasy.
The success of this first concert raises the possibility that there will be more such concerts in the future. “We now know we can execute an event like this, and much of the credit for that goes to the dedicated County staff,” writes Lindsay. “They really rose to the occasion and learned a lot of things on the fly to make this concert happen.”