Gene Simmons dances with guests onstage at CannaFest 2018. (Kathleen Saylors/Grand Forks Gazette)

Gene Simmons to launch new Titans of Rock music festival in Grand Forks

The rock legend has partnered with Chuck Varabioff to run Titans of Rock in Grand Forks

Kiss bassist Gene Simmons is coming back to Grand Forks this summer to launch a new music festival.

Simmons first came to Grand Forks to headline the CannaFest music festival in 2018, but now, he’s coming back to help run the show.

The rock legend has partnered with Grand Forks-raised Chuck Varabioff to rebrand the festival as Titans of Rock. Much like Simmons adding face paint to become “The Demon” onstage for Kiss shows, Varabioff said that the same sort of talent would be coming to Grand Forks in 2020, just under a new name and a fresh coat of paint.

Last July, Varabioff told the Gazette that CannaFest 2019 would be the last event under that name. The organizer explained that having a cartoon pot leaf as a logo and the word “Canna” in the name had scared away some potential sponsors (leading to him fronting the cash to run the festival) and may have even run afoul of the federal government’s guidelines on advertising. Cannabis companies are not allowed to market themselves using materials that might appeal to children, such as the leaf currently on CannaFest materials.

CannaFest 2019 welcomed acts such as The Beach Boys, Cheap Trick, Vince Neil, Bret Michaels, Lita Ford and Marianas Trench. The lineup for Titans of Rock 2020 has yet to be announced.


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