MECHANIC FALLS — Sparks from indoor pyrotechnics at the start of a Great White concert in 2003 ignited the ceiling’s foam soundproofing, causing a fire that destroyed The Station nightclub in Rhode Island and killed 100 people.

The band’s lead singer, Jack Russell, has not performed in New England since that night.

After 12 years, Russell is returning to the region for a show at a venue that recently suffered its own tragedy — Harvest Hill Farms.

Jack Russell’s Great White is scheduled to headline the all-day Party in the Pasture Rock Fest on Aug. 15 at the Mechanic Falls farm, which was the site of a fatal accident on its haunted hayride last October.

Acknowledging the “elephant in the room” with the two tragedies, Stan Miller, the CEO of North East Concerts, which is promoting the show, is welcoming the opportunity to help provide some healing.

“We do feel as though we’d like to move forward with providing the region with a great event,” Miller said. “We know we can pull this off, creating a safe environment for everyone.”


Peter Bolduc Jr., owner of Harvest Hill Farms, responded to an inquiry by North East Concerts on Craigslist seeking venues for concerts, Miller said.

“We investigated and said, ‘Let’s roll the dice with this,'” Miller said. “He’s been great to deal with.”

Bolduc said he was asked to provide a venue for a concert promoter. He said he wasn’t sure what to expect because he has not hosted an event like this before.

Bolduc refused to answer any other questions, saying he had no other details.

Russell was the lead singer for Great White, which enjoyed success during the hair-band era in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The group’s best-known hits include “Once Bitten, Twice Shy,” “Rock Me” and “Save Your Love.”

During a comeback tour in 2003, the night after a performance in Bangor, Great White was scheduled to perform at The Station, a popular rock venue in West Warwick, R.I. The pyrotechnics that opened the show ignited the ceiling and walls covered by soundproofing foam. The fire quickly escalated and claimed 100 lives, including the band’s lead guitarist.


The band has since split into two groups with similar names — Great White and Jack Russell’s Great White. Both continue to tour, but Russell, the band’s voice during their heyday, has not returned to perform in New England until now.

“Everything we have heard from Jack is he is welcoming it,” Miller said. “He’s extremely excited to play our event. The fans of New England want to hear their version of the hit songs Great White performed live, and we’re simply giving them an outlet.”

The irony is the venue of Harvest Hill Farms. On the night of Oct. 11, 2014, a flatbed hay wagon on the Gauntlet spilled dozens of riders into the woods when the Jeep pulling it down a steep hill jackknifed and slammed into a tree.

Investigators said it appeared a mechanical failure led to the rollover, in which Cassidy Charette, 17, a student at Messalonskee High School in Oakland, died of her injuries. Seriously hurt was Charette’s boyfriend, 16-year-old Connor Garland of Belgrade.

Nearly two dozen others were also seriously hurt, suffering broken bones and head, back and neck injuries.

Earlier this week, a grand jury indicted the farm on manslaughter charges, as well as aggravated assault, driving to endanger and reckless conduct. The driver of the Jeep and a mechanic were also charged with reckless conduct.


Bolduc was not charged.

“It’s the compounding issue of tragedy that did occur, but this is once again an opportunity,” Miller said. “The Bolducs are great people. Everyone we’ve talked to, from our beer vendors to other people who know him have all said that this is just a real unfortunate accident that occurred.”

The farm is also scheduled to host a daylong techno-electronic dance music festival Saturday, July 18, featuring three disc jockeys, including Ian Ford of New York and Portland’s DJ Frostbreaks.

Next month’s 12-hour show with headliner Jack Russell’s Great White also features at least nine local and regional bands. The best known is Steelheart, which has a song on the “Rock Star” movie soundtrack.

With the notoriety of Great White and Russell’s return to New England, Miller feels as many as 7,000 could attend the concert. He reported ticket sales as brisk.

“We’re dealing with the negativity in a great way,” Miller said. “People are entitled to their opinions. They’ve been using our Facebook page and our posts, but for every negative post that we get, we probably get five to 10 positive responses telling us that people are coming out and support what we’re doing.”

According to Mechanic Falls Town Manager John Hawley, the farm will need a permit for the event. Hawley had contacted Bolduc about this requirement, but had not yet heard back from him.

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