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It was announced earlier this week that the veteran British rockers Rolling Stones, seen above, would play the Burl’s Creek Event Grounds in bucolic Oro-Medonte, Ont., on June 29.Danny Williams/Danny Williams

How do you get the Rolling Stones to play your venue? You simply ask them.

It was announced earlier this week that the veteran British rockers would play the Burl’s Creek Event Grounds in bucolic Oro-Medonte, Ont., on June 29. The Canada Day weekend show will be the lone Canadian appearance and the final stop on the upcoming North American leg of the band’s No Filter tour. It is also the only concert on the 17-date jaunt presented by a local promoter, rather than L.A.-based colossus AEG Live/Concerts West.

“It fell together perfectly,” says Lisa Zechmeister, of Toronto-based Republic Live, operators of Burl’s Creek, a sprawling 600-acre field space some 130 kilometres north of the Ontario capital. “We saw the opportunity and reached out to Concerts West. It was months and months of putting the deal together, but the window was perfect to bring the Stones here.”

One of the reasons why Toronto was not one of the original No Filter dates was the lack of a venue. Other than a stop at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival on May 2, the Stones are exclusively playing open-air sports stadiums this go-around. When the tour didn’t line up with the available dates at Toronto’s Rogers Centre, home of Major League Baseball’s Blue Jays, Zechmeister and Republic Live stepped up to the plate.

Bringing the Rolling Stones to Oro-Medonte is a massive undertaking and logistical minefield. A pair of shows at Chicago’s Soldier Field were to be the tour leg’s final dates, on June 21 and 25. Because it takes days to tear down, transport and reassemble the band’s 200-feet-wide stage and associated rigging, a tacked-on Canada Day weekend gig in Ontario made perfect calendar sense. Still, an organization like the Rolling Stones, who plan tours with military-campaign precision, would need to do their typical superdiligence before committing to Republic Live’s proposal.

“The Stones’ team wanted to know their fans would have a good time and that they would be safe,” says Zechmeister, Republic Live’s primary talent buyer. “They’re not rookies at this, but neither are we. We have the experience of getting people in and out of our venue.”

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An aerial view of Burl's Creek Event Grounds.Danny Williams/Danny Williams

Republic Live’s flagship event is the annual Boots and Hearts Music Festival, billed as Canada’s largest camping and country-music festival. From 2015 to 2017, Republic Live held its WayHome Music & Arts Festival at Burl’s Creek. The event (which hosted headliners Arcade Fire, Neil Young and Kendrick Lamar) is currently on pause, mostly due to a saturated, highly competitive North American festival market. “I wouldn’t rule out the return of WayHome,” says Zechmeister, when asked if the three-day mega-event was dead. “It’s just not what we’re focusing on right now.”

The Stones have a history with Toronto. Part of their Love You Live album was recorded in 1977 at a club show at the El Mocambo, with Margaret Trudeau in town at the time. At the Harbour Castle Hilton, guitarist Keith Richards received an unsolicited wake-up call from the RCMP. A heroin bust resulted in a pair of court-ordered concerts by Richards in benefit of the Canadian National Institute for the Blind. Those shows took place in Oshawa, Ont., in 1979.

Because many of their tours were promoted by Toronto’s now defunct Concert Productions International, the band regularly rehearsed in the city and gave surprise club gigs in 1994 (at RPM), 1997 (at the Horseshoe Tavern) and 2005 (at Phoenix Concert Theatre). On July 30, 2003, the band headlined a SARS benefit concert at Downsview Park that drew upward of a half-million people.

The band’s first-ever Canadian concert happened at a sold-out Maurice Richard Arena in Montreal on April 23, 1965. In between shows in Ottawa and London, Ont., the Stones, on April 25, played Maple Leaf Gardens. The Globe and Mail reported that the “mop-haired” band gave a “ferocious one-night stand,” in front of 10,000 “shrieking, swooning, hysterical teenagers."

It was, by all accounts, a wild scene memorable more for bedlam than music. “To the uninitiate, no melody was audible, let alone lyrics,” wrote The Globe’s Hugh Thomson. “All one heard was the insistent beat from the battery of electric guitars, turned full blast, and the drums, which must require repairing after each performance.”

One of the opening bands that night was David Clayton-Thomas and The Shays. “It was the first gig I had off of Yonge Street,” recalls Clayton-Thomas, who spoke to The Globe this week. “We saw the whole evening. I thought they were a funky blues band, just like us,” says Clayton-Thomas, who went on to sing for Blood, Sweat and Tears. “Who knew they would grow up to be the Rolling Stones we know today.”

They’re still a funky blues band at heart, albeit one that has grossed nearly US$240-million on its current tour this far. The most recent album released by the band was 2016’s Blue & Lonesome, a collection of blues covers.

Opening acts for the Burl’s Creek event have yet to be announced. Tickets go on sale Feb. 15, starting at $119.50 through Ticketmaster. VIP packages kick off at $329.50. To accommodate an expected 70,000 attendees and the automobiles that will get them to the rural site, no camping will be allowed.

It was once reported that after a Stones concert in Toronto some years ago, the guitarist and finicky eater Richards held up a flight out of town until he got his traditional postshow repast of shepherd’s pie. Backstage food demands are not likely to be an issue at Burl’s Creek.

“If Keith wants shepherd’s pie,” says Zechmeister, “he can have all he wants.”

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