Nanaimo rock group Wise Youngblood are headlining Canada Day in the Bay at Departure Bay Beach. (Photo Courtesy Wise Youngblood)

Nanaimo rock group Wise Youngblood to headline Canada Day in the Bay

Day-long celebration brings music, games and bathtub races to Departure Bay Beach

Canada is turning 152 years old and Nanaimo rock group Wise Youngblood will be wishing the nation a happy birthday when they headline this year’s Canada Day in the Bay.

The day-long event, which takes place at Departure Bay Beach on July 1 starting at 1 p.m., features games, bathtub races, and live music from both Wise Youngblood and fellow local band the Hollobodies.

This will be Wise Youngblood’s first hometown show in months, and vocalist Kyle Stephen said he’s looking forward to being home for one of his favourite long weekends of the year.

He said he enjoys bringing their show outdoors, adding, ”We’re going to have a pretty deadly ocean view.” He hopes to see audience members wearing appropriately festive attire.

“It’s different from a bar or theatre,” Stephen said. “I mean, at a bar you get the energy, the crowd can touch you and they’re right there they’re up front and personal. And theatre’s more of a sitting, laid-back vibe. But I love playing outside venues. You know when people are really engaged.”

Earlier this year, Wise Youngblood – Stephen, guitarist Andrew Harper, bassist Dave Buchanan and drummer Myles Nowik – were in Toronto recording their next EP, Black Diamond City, a nickname for Nanaimo from its old coal days, Stephen explained. He said the six-song record will come out in the fall.

“Our new stuff’s still unreleased, so basically everyone who comes down is going to hear our unreleased album, more or less,” Stephen said. “So [it’s] fresh to the ears and I’m very excited about the product we have and we’re really more excited to share it with everyone.”

In February, Wise Youngblood released their newest single, Break Free, which will not appear on the EP. Stephen said it’s an older song they’ve been keeping in the “vault” and said there may be more to come.

“We’re actually in the midst of remixing some old ones, so we have a lot of stuff down the pipeline right now,” he said.

Stephen recently overcame an illness and said the Canada Day show is one of his first “in quite some months,” but now he’s feeling better and “ready to rock.” After summer festival season, Wise Youngblood’s fall album release tour for Black Diamond City will take them from Vancouver to Winnipeg.

“We’re getting out there,” Stephen said. “We’re going to start hitting it hard again. I mean, this is what we love and what we want to do, so we’re chasing the dream.”

WHAT’S ON … Canada Day in the Bay takes place at Departure Bay Beach, 2800 Departure Bay Rd. on Monday, July 1 starting at 1 p.m. Tickets are $10 at the Queen’s or

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