Summer Sleddin’ soldiers on

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” goes that old, tired axiom. Still, in the 30-plus years since it was first uttered by Bert Lance, the idea has held with remarkable tenacity. Now, organizers of Sled Island Music Festival are tempting fate by messing with a working formula.

Zak Pashak, the festival founder, stepped down as festival director and Lindsay Shedden moved in to replace him. Though Pashak is still working with the festival, Shedden brings her years of experience in live music to bear on the Calgary staple — she has worked on tours for both Mars Volta and Arcade Fire and promoted a wide variety of shows in Whistler and Vancouver.

“I do the day-to-day operations — working out all the finer details,” she says. “We’re incorporating some new things for this year’s Sled Island. Right now, tons of meetings, tons of organizing — it’s just the whole overview of the festival.”

Though fans may be worried that the festival will lose some of the magic that marks the three-day music extravaganza that takes over Calgary’s core, Shedden is quick to reassure fans that’s not the case.

“It isn’t that much of a restructuring to be honest — I’m stepping in so Zak can step away a bit,” she says. “It’s still the same festival that everyone has come to know and love over the years. You can still expect the same quality of programming, the same diversity of artists.” One thing that might change is the the film aspect of the festival. Though nothing is certain, Jeanette Burman, who has served as the head of the A/V front, is stepping down this year and organizers are looking for a replacement.

“It hasn’t exactly been dropped — we’re still looking at ways to incorporate it,” says Shedden. “If we’re going to do it, we’re going to do it right. We’re going to do it bigger and better than ever, which is kind of the idea involving the festival is make it bigger, make it better and stacked bills. With film, we haven’t completely stepped away from the idea. It’s just up in the air right now. If it’s going to happen, we’re looking for people to step up and take over.”

The festival has recently announced a list of some of this summer’s headliners, rife with talent. Calgary’s darling Chad VanGaalen leads the pack which also includes Of Montreal, Blonde Redhead, The Buzzcocks, The Greenhornes and The Dandy Warhols.

If there was one thing Shedden stressed, it was any change to Sled Island will be positive. It seems obvious that the new festival director would say that, but if the first round of headliners are any indication, the organizers are on the right track. Plus, there’s a new main office downtown called the “Sledquarters” that will act as a hub for the whole festival, which Shedden ruefully stated is a little bit better than working out of Pashak’s house.

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