Virgin captures Fort Calgary

Calgary’s music community was abuzz with excitement on Tuesday morning in anticipation of a Virgin Music press conference at Fort Calgary featuring Sir Richard Branson. The everyman billionaire arrived decked out in western regalia and riding a chuckwagon and erected his company’s flag in front of the historic site claiming it as “Virgin territory.” He then announced that it will be the grounds for a Calgary edition of his ever-expanding series of Virgin Music Festivals on the weekend of June 21 2008.

“Having learned how to do festivals well (in the U.K.) we decided to bring it to Canada” said the charismatic Brit whose “rockstravaganzas” have touched down over the past two years in Toronto and Vancouver. “And this is a perfect city for a Virgin festival.”

While few music lovers will be upset by Branson’s newfound interest in Calgary the date chosen by Virgin is inauspiciously close to the time of year when the sophomore Sled Island festival is expected to run. Its organizers may find themselves feeling a bit like David facing Goliath.

“Sled Island will continue to be a multi-venue Calgary-centred festival featuring a great mix of local and international artists” said stalwart Sled Islander Derek McEwen. “There will always be overlap with other festivals — from folk fest to jazz fest — and that’s something we’re prepared to deal with.”

With any luck the city will prove big enough for both of them and no one will have to get their knickers in a twist.