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Cumberland’s Woodstove Festival growing with each passing year

Submitted by Bobby Herron
Amy Muloin and her accompanist played at the Four Quarters Restaurant on Friday evening. Photo by Lyle Carlstrom

Submitted by Bobby Herron

Woodstoves have gotten a bad rap of late in Cumberland.

Some folks find the air too smoky in those cold winter months. The Woodstove Festival, however, produces a small amount of the friendlier smoke, and a lot of 100 per cent, honest-to-goodness music, played by people with real instruments.

Produced and programmed by singer/songwriter Tereza Tomek with help from her friends, community members and the Cumberland Culture and Arts Society, the Woodstove Festival takes place within a couple of blocks over the first weekend of November. It’s an affordable, family-friendly way to take in some incredible music and community fun before you get geared up for the change in season.

Year three of “the little music and arts festival that could” saw the event add more venues along with more artists. Woodstove appeared to be surprised by its own success. On Saturday night a posse of 10 and myself wandered from the Cumberland Hotel to Alley Cuts over to the Abbey and finally to the Waverley where we waited in line for a half hour. The Abbey was the only venue that had room for us to stand.

Besides seeing a few key acts I was keen to catch, I heard a few songs here and a couple there as I stuck my head in several of the 11 venues. With so much to choose from, a person had to consult their schedule regularly to get the most out of the event. It seemed as though there were almost as many musicians as there were festival-goers, who, incidentally, very much livened up and adorned the streets of Cumberland. Some folks didn’t seem to need to be in a venue to perform or be entertained. There were instruments with strings and skins everywhere.

Some highlights for me at this year’s Woodstove was seeing Whitehorse band Paris Pick & The Pricks as they performed their funky soul, dance groove music at the Cumberland Hotel. Then there were the songwriters at the Cumberland Museum who were challenged to write a song based on a visit to the museum. This was one of those events that will never be repeated, a session that had the entire room riveted. Local band Diode with their impressive, energetic take on ’70s rock played the Masonic Hall. Vancouver band Red Haven with their smooth, refined sound laid it down lush and soulful.

I believe The Woodstove Festival is about the sharing of music and art – self-expression in a community that seems to welcome it with open arms. At a time when so many festivals and music events feature mostly digital equipment pumping out mostly predictable beats, there appears to be a desire for finely crafted songs performed by people who love the music they make. Woodstove is about connection. Like Arts Wells Festival near Quesnel, B.C. ,Woodstove is a small, multi-venue festival I can see people making a pilgrimage to connect with year after year.