Daniel Lapp is performing at the Sooke River Bluegrass Festival on the Father's Day weekend

Daniel Lapp is performing at the Sooke River Bluegrass Festival on the Father's Day weekend

Bluegrass festival is back better than ever

Festival will have square dancing in the big tent at the Sooke Flats

Pirjo Raits

Sooke News Mirror

It’s been two years since there’s been a bluegrass festival in Sooke and there are many fans who have missed the yearly event usually held mid-June.

“We’re on!,” exclaims Larry Statland, one of the festival directors.

For 11 years, the banjos and fiddles, guitars and bass were heard resounding through the valley as bands struck up a chord and let ‘er rip. Some of the best bluegrass pickers and strummers journeyed out to Sooke to start off the season of bluegrass festivals. But, for the past two years, the fiddles were silent at the Sooke Flats and people missed it, said Statland.

This year, the festival, which takes place June 14 to 16, will have a new feature — square dancing!

“We’re going to have a Saturday night square dance under the tent,” said Statland. “A real live square dancer with a caller and a band. The caller promises to be gentle with the newbies, so don’t be scared.”

Statland mentioned that this used to be the way guys met girls and it still works.

The organizers are trying to round up a huge circus tent which they say would be ideal for the dance.

There is a resurgence of square dancing in Victoria and it is mostly young people who are do sa doing, allemande letting and rolling away with a half sashay.

“We’ve been organizing dances with them, we hope they show up cause they are a lot of fun,” said Statland. “The more people there, the better it is. Square dance has a rural base and it kind of disappeared and it’s interesting how young people go back to it.”

He said a lot of older folks remember square dancing and thinks it would be great to have both groups there at the same time.

“There’s not very many events where young and old can participate — I’d like to see that,”

The festival, along with the main stage performances, will have a number of workshops for musicians, as well as, what Statland calls the best part, the jamming around the campsite.

“Most music festivals are meant for people to listen, but here you go and play music with other people, the main stage is secondary,” he said. “The best music you’re going to hear is in the campsites and everyone can stand by and listen.”

Plus Slow Pitch Jam, Open Stage, Flat Picking Competition, Instrument Workshops including the fiddle, banjo, guitar, dobro and mandolin, and the Big Top Square Dance on Saturday night.

Weekend Pass $50 – Friday Only $20 – Saturday Only $30 – Sunday Only $10 – Tickets available at the Royal McPherson Box Office 250-386-6121 or at any Victoria Bluegrass Association event. Ticket prices do not include camping fees (which will vary according to a campers requirements).

The festival is family friendly and features a wide range of acoustic talent, food vendors and music workshops.

All of the bands performing are from Vancouver Island and include such notables as The Sweet Lowdown, Clover Point Drifters, Maple Mountain Boys, Moonshiners, Riverside Bluegrass Band, Eric Day and Friends, Riverside Trio and the Hub City Rambler Duo.

The Moonshiners first played at the Sooke River Bluegrass Festival in 2010, except they were all in different bands at the time; Flash in the Pan, Skagway and Last Train. This year, after the festival hiatus, the Moonshiners are back with a new name and a vengeance.

“We’re excited about that,” said Chris Herbst. “It’s good that the festival is back on.”

The Moonshiners got their name from an old traditional song called Moonshiner and they adopted the moniker when they formed the band to play gigs every Sunday night at Swans Pub in Victoria.

“We thought the name Moonshiners would fit for a bar band,” said Herbst.

But it is all about the music after all, and the Moonshiners play classic bluegrass, honkey tonk, blues and funk. Herbst says they are probably more diverse than the average bluegrass band. They are known for their powerful three-part harmonies, danceable grooves and wild instrumental excursions. They are West Coast urban.

Born and raised in Prince George, British Columbia, Daniel Lapp learned the joy of fiddle music from his grandfather, five uncles and numerous accordion playing aunts. Family events were excuses to play music and he carries this tradition into a new era and contemporary culture.

The Maple Mountain Boys  are a bluegrass band based in the Cowichan Valley who are quickly becoming fan favourites. Bringing together a group of veteran and new musicians, they showcase their own unique style of hard driving bluegrass that ranges from easy listening to traditional flavoured songs.

The Hub City Ramblers bring their own west coast style to the traditional brother duo. The music they play speaks to old world sensibilities, but leaves you feeling fresh and new. Brad Shipley’s mandolin work is filled with cascading melodies and ear catching fills, and Ira Pelletier’s guitar playing is soulful and intense. They play a mix of traditional bluegrass, old time songs and instrumentals, as well as original tunes.

The Sweet Lowdown is an acoustic roots trio from Victoria. Drawn together by mutual passion for old-time groove, hard driving bluegrass, sweet harmonies and well-wrought songs, The Sweet Lowdown (Amanda Blied, guitar,; Shanti Bremer, banjo and Miriam Sonstenes, fiddle) blend original song-writing with old time roots music to create a sound that is both unique and timeless.

Originally conceived as a duo in 2008 by Blied and Bremer, The Sweet Lowdown recorded a seven song EP with Adam Iredale-Gray (Fish & Bird), touring and performing in the Pacific Northwest.

By the spring of 2010, the duo was ready to develop a fuller sound and fiddler Sonstenes joined the group.  The newly formed trio quickly set to work refining their new sound and in January 2011 they traveled by train to Parry Sound, Ontario, to record their self-titled debut album with musician and sound engineer Andrew Collins (Creaking Tree String Quartet, Foggy Hogtown Boys). By 2011 the trio had garnered quite a local following and won the Monday Magazine M-Award for Favorite Roots/World Music Group.  In June they released their debut album which was nominated for 2012 “Album of the Year” by the Vancouver Island Music Awards.

More information on the festival, the entertainers, tickets and schedule is available on the Sooke River Bluegrass Music Festival website at: www.sookebluegrass.com

Be there or be square (dancing that is).

Just Posted

Charles Hawkswell, Commander, of the Cape Lazo Power and Sail Squadron, presents a $1,000 cheque to the Comox Valley Marine Rescue Society. File photo
Comox removing moorage fees, hydro for Comox Valley Marine Rescue Society

Last year, the unit and society responded to more than 50 rescue missions in the past year

A Saanich man received almost 10 years in Supreme Court in Courtenay for a shooting incident from 2018. Record file photo
Shooting incident north of Courtenay nets almost 10-year sentence

Richard Daniel Vigneault was arrested without incident and faced 16 counts

Dr. Aref Tabarsi, a general pathologist at the North Island Hospital Campbell River Hospital Medical Laboratory, spoke about the issue of service in the region at a meeting in February 2020. Black Press file photo
Comox Strathcona hospital board wants pathology service back

UPDATED: Board supports move for chair, vice-chair to engage with Island Health on issue

Danielle Egilson has been awarded a $40,000 post-secondary scholarship with The Cmolik Foundation. Photo supplied
Student from Courtenay’s Vanier Secondary lands prestigious scholarship

Cmolik Foundation provides opportunities for youth who’ve experienced adversity

Poverty is a sad reality for some people in the Comox Valley. Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash
Project takes a hard look at poverty in the Comox Valley

Objective is to reduce poverty in the Comox Valley by 25 per cent over four years

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The following is a list of restaurants offering take-out and patio dining. ADOBE STOCK IMAGE
List of Comox Valley restaurants offering take-out, patio dining options

Restaurants in the Comox Valley continue to adapt to government-imposed restrictions in… Continue reading

The only access to 5th Street bridge heading east (toward Lewis Park) is via Anderton Avenue. Photo by Terry Farrell.
Single lane alternating traffic controls on Courtenay bridge now in effect

Single lane alternating traffic on the 5th Street Bridge is now in… Continue reading

On Friday, May 14 at Meadow Gardens Golf Club in Pitt Meadows, Michael Caan joined a very elite club of golfers who have shot under 60 (Instagram)
Crowds at English Bay were blasted with a large beam of light from an RCMP Air-1 helicopter on Friday, May 14. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marc Grandmaison
Police enlist RCMP helicopter to disperse thousands crowded on Vancouver beach

On Friday night, police were witness to ‘several thousand people staying well into the evening’

Sinikka Gay Elliott was reported missing on Salt Spring Island on Wednesday, May 12. (Courtesty Salt Spring RCMP)
Body of UBC professor found on Salt Spring Island, no foul play suspected

Sinikka Elliott taught sociology at the university

The first Black judge named to the BC Supreme Court, Selwyn Romilly, was handcuffed at 9:15 a.m. May 14 while walking along the seawall. (YouTube/Screen grab)
Police apologize after wrongly arresting B.C.’s first Black Supreme Court Justice

At 81 years old, the retired judge was handcuffed in public while out for a walk Friday morning

Queen Elizabeth II and Clive Holland, deputy commonwealth president of the Royal Life Saving Society, top left, virtually present Dr. Steve Beerman, top right, with the King Edward VII Cup for his drowning-prevention work. Tanner Gorille and Sarah Downs were honoured with Russell Medals for their life-saving resuscitation. (Buckingham Palace photo)
Queen presents Vancouver Island doctor with award for global drowning prevention

Dr. Steve Beerman receives Royal Life Saving Society’s King Edward VII Cup at virtual ceremony

Most Read