Cha Wa was one of the highlights onstage at last year’s MusicFest. On July 10, organizers are holding an online Facebook celebration to mark the weekend that was supposed to be this year’s festival. Record file photo

Annual music event in Comox Valley celebrates online instead

Vancouver Island MusicFest holds virtual celebration set for July 10

The upcoming weekend was to be the time when Lucinda Williams, Corb Lund and others brought their musical talents to the Vancouver Island Music Festival.

Like so many other events, this year’s festival, set for July 10 through 12, was cancelled in response to health restrictions aimed at controlling the spread of COVID-19.

The festival organizers, though, do not want the weekend to pass without some sort of celebration, so they have organized an online broadcast to celebrate MusicFest on their Facebook page starting Friday, July 10 starting at 7 p.m. MusicFest artistic director Doug Cox isn’t sure, but they might do a second evening on Saturday, July 11, depending on how many contributions he gets.

“Right now, it’s Friday night for sure,” he said. “It might end up being longer.”

RELATED STORY: COVID-19 forces cancellation of Vancouver Island MusicFest

When the Record spoke to him, he was in the midst of editing the many submissions that have come in already.

“There’s going to be all kinds of archival stuff. There’s clips that performers have been sending me,” he said. “There’s all kinds of clips from our volunteers and our staff.”

For this online event, they have asked people to contribute a video greeting or memory to the celebration. They’ve also asked performers to contribute a song, though they remind people if they’re using cell phones to shoot sideways – in other words, to orient the image horizontally or “landscape.” The sound quality also needs to be clear. The deadline is Monday.

“The stuff has been coming in like mad,” Cox said. “It’s really been heartening. It’s been a really fun thing to be working on…. I really want it to be about the spirit of the festival.”

They are planning some surprises and special guests as part of the event. Cox does not want to give details, but he’s said he has had contributions from as far away as England and Los Angeles, along with people closer to home.

“They’re from all over the place,” he said.

As important as the artists’ contributions have been, Cox is just as impressed by some of what festival volunteers have had to say in their submissions about what the event means. He says he has watched a lot of other similar Internet broadcasts recently, and he thinks this one will stand out.

“This is, sort of, one of the most heartfelt, cool ones I think anybody’s going to see,” he said.

People can watch for themselves via the Vancouver Island MusicFest Facebook page on Friday – and maybe Saturday.

Cox also took part in a livestream “concert in the round” event for the fest in late June, performing with The Harpoonist, Carolyn Mark and Corwin Fox. He admits it was a little strange playing without an audience but was still fun.

“We had a good time,” he added. “It was really nice for all of us because none of us had played music with anybody for two months.”

Vancouver Island MusicFest has also set dates on the calendar for the next festival. It will take place July 9 to 11, 2021.



mike.chouinard@comoxvalleyrecord.com

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