How does one keep their mental health in check during this crazy COVID pandemic? Joel Gouveia, a young, Canadian music promoter from Aurora, Ontario (not far from Toronto), has come up with a fun way to help his home town take a small step toward safe, in-person interaction. Gouveia is staging a music festival he is calling Aurorapalooza. The six-hour event on August 15, 2020, will feature local bands with a portion of the proceeds going to the Canadian Mental Health Association. At the age of 23, Gouveia is already experienced in radio, music licensing, artist management and is currently the Music Supervisor of an American feature film called, “A Thousand Little Cuts.” Clearly Gouveia is on the fast track to success in the entertainment business. We caught up with him recently to ask him about Aurorapalooza and some of his upcoming projects.
Splash: Hey, Joel.
Joel Gouveia: Hello.
Splash: How have you been holding up during quarantine?
JG: I’ve been alright. The first couple of weeks were really tough. It seemed like there was no light at the end of the tunnel. No one really knew how long this was all going to last and it was a bit hard on the mental health side of things but after a couple of weeks, I realized that this virus isn’t going anywhere any time soon. Once I reached that point of acceptance I started doing more things I enjoyed. I picked up work in different places and somehow I’m busier than I’ve ever been. These past few months have really flown by. Between working on the feature film that I am music supervising and with my other two gigs, I don’t have time to worry anymore. Keeping occupied is super important, especially during a crazy time like this.
Splash: It’s cool that you’ve managed to keep busy. Other people have not been so lucky.
Splash: How and when did you come up with the idea for Aurorapalooza? Clever name, by the way.
JG: Thank you! I totally didn’t steal it from anywhere. Well, when Phase 3 opened up in certain parts of Ontario, I realized that live music was officially allowed to happen again. I’m a huge concert fanatic. I probably would’ve been to at least a dozen shows this summer if it wasn’t for the pandemic. Working from home has helped me save a bunch of money and I thought ‘why wait for someone else to put on a show when I can put some cash aside and do it myself?’ I just finished up a music business course in college and the knowledge I gained there was still fresh in my head. I mentioned my idea to my best friends who are in a band called Yellow Magnolia. They have a following in our hometown of Aurora, and they were super down for it, so I went straight to the drawing board.
Splash: So what is the basic premise? How will the event play out?
JG: It’s going to be a totally different vibe from your traditional, pre-COVID-19 show. Based on government regulations, we still need to be social distancing, and we have to do it safely. We created ticket packages that you could buy in groups of two, four, six, or eight, and when you buy your ticket you must specify who is in your social circle. When you enter the venue you will be given a color-coded wristband that will coordinate with the rest of your group. We will have chalked out areas that are separated by at least 6 feet and you will be asked to stay within those areas, so you can still hang out with your friends, but you are distancing from other attendees. As required by the government, there will also be a plexiglass divider between the singer of each band and the crowd, and we will be thoroughly sanitizing the stage, microphones, and all equipment between sets. I have volunteers and security that will ensure that social distancing is happening in all lines (restrooms, concessions, etc.). We’ve got all of our bases covered with the safety precautions and the event will run from 6 pm to 11 pm at Town Park in Aurora .
Splash: Will there be food available?
JG: Oh, yeah! We were lucky enough to have two local food vendors work the event. Wanda’s Sweets Food Truck will be selling Ice Cream, Waffles, and Crepes for the sweet tooths, and Casalingo Burger will have Veal Sandwiches, Chicken Burgers, Burgers, Fries, and Poutines.
Splash: That sounds like a lot of fun. Did you have to jump through hoops to get city approval?
JG: I wouldn’t say a lot of hoops, but it was quite a bit of work for such a short notice event. When I spoke with the mayor of Aurora he said most people pitch their idea to the town at least 4 months ahead of time. I was trying to get this rolling less than a month before I wanted to get the show on. The summer is only so long in Ontario. Anything outdoors past September wouldn’t be ideal. Phase 3 regulations were only released mid-July, so I buckled down and tried to whip everything together in a couple of days. The town liked my presentation and could tell I had figured out the best way to do it safely. My whole pitch was based on supporting locals. All of our equipment rentals, food vendors, and musicians are from the Aurora/Newmarket area. Plus, they were very much behind the idea of supporting mental health.
Splash: It’s important.
JG: I truly think that live music is an important factor in maintaining a healthy psyche. It’s vital for the community.
Splash: Sounds like you’ve given this a lot of thought, and you’re also being very careful with ways to keep people safe.
JG: Absolutely. I truly think that following the regulations is the least I should do. We need to take the extra step to make sure that in Canada we don’t get this ‘second wave’ that everyone is predicting. Opening our country back up is important for the long-term economy, but we have to do it safely so we can stay open in the coming months. We’ve done a relatively good job here compared to some other places in the world and we need to continue and not get foolish when we go to events like this.
Splash: Of course it helps that Canada is way ahead of some American cities in terms of quarantine compliance and the wearing of masks.
JG: Ha! Notice how I didn’t mention any names when saying “other places in the world,” but yes, I think that Canada is filled with the least selfish people in the world. We recognize that in the long term following the rules is more important than some short-term pleasures. Plus, how hard is it actually to wear a mask for a few minutes when you go grocery shopping for example. It’s not a big deal, and it’ll go a long way to reducing the spread of this disease.
Splash: Tell us about the bands you’ve booked for the event.
JG: As I mentioned, all of the bands are from Aurora. The Beresfords have a really solid following in the country scene, especially in Canada. They were top of the Country charts on Apple Music not too long ago! They have a new single called Been There, Done That that came out this year which I’ve been really enjoying lately. I’ve known both of them for quite a while and grew up with them at the same elementary school. They’re super talented. Ed Jackson & His Band are also great and I’ve seen them a few times at local bars. The band usually consists of teachers from my elementary school, however, half of the band members can’t make it to the show for that date. Being subbed in will be Manny D on bass, who works at the local music store (The Arts) and is incredible on the bass, and Connor Cowl, a super talented lead guitarist whom I’ve known for a long time. As for Yellow Magnolia, there’s Evin Jennings on vocals and guitar, Keith Jarvis on bass, Jake Allen on guitar, and Owen Jennings on drums. I’ve seen these guys over ten times. They’re incredible and I couldn’t be happier with Aurorapalooza’s lineup.
Splash: How are ticket sales coming along?
JG: We sold out in less than three hours!
Splash: Wow! Congratulations, Joel. That’s amazing. So if one is not able to attend in person are there any live-streaming opportunities?
JG: For sure! We’ve linked up with Snapd to Live Stream the event on their Facebook pages. It’ll be streaming on Snapd Aurora, Newmarket, Bradford, Mississauga, and Richmond Hill. Viewers can watch for free, however, to support mental health initiatives in Ontario we encourage people to donate to the Canadian Mental Health Association of Ontario.
Splash: Is there a link where one can do that?
JG: Yes. It’s: gf.me/u/yhjw9a
Splash: Besides “Aurorapalooza,” you’re currently music supervising a feature film, which, in the interest of full disclosure I’m a producer on. What else do you have in the pipeline for the coming months?
JG: Yes I am! Music supervising “A Thousand Little Cuts” has been a blast and I’ve had so much fun working with the crew. The same production company is hoping to put out two more films next year, so if they like my work on ATLC I’m hoping I’ll get to supervise those as well.
Splash: Good luck with all that.
JG: Thank you!
Splash: And good luck with Aurorapalooza. I hope to look in on it via the internet.
WHEN: August 15, 2020 – 5:45 pm – 11pm EST
WHERE: Town Park, 85 Wells Street, Aurora, ON L4G 1H1 Aurora, Ontario, Canada.
Donate to the Canadian Mental Health Association HERE