Special to The Record
One of B.C.’s most recognizable – and versatile – musicians, Daniel Lapp guesses that he has played at MusicFest more than half a dozen times. And when he returns this July, he’s scheduled to make five very different appearances over the festival’s three days.
Lapp is best known as a phenomenally gifted fiddler, both as a performer and as a teacher (the talented teens in his renowned B.C. Fiddle Orchestra just finished a tour of the Maritimes).
But this Victoria-based performer is also a multi-instrumentalist and excellent singer-songwriter who is adept at several musical genres; he’s also played on over 100 albums and appeared on stage all across North America and Europe.
In short, he’s the perfect performer to bring to MusicFest: a talented improviser and cheerful collaborator who can thrive in a multitude of starkly different musical settings.
“MusicFest is one of the festivals that performers most look forward to performing at,” says Lapp. “It’s a beautiful setting and there’s a wonderful backstage atmosphere where the musicians can just hang out and catch up with each other.”
Of course, the atmosphere in front of the stage is equally delightful.
“When you come to MusicFest you know you’re going to hear great music – that’s just a given,” declares Lapp. “Doug [Doug Cox, the executive producer and artistic director] has excellent taste in music. And he’s part of a team that allows him to follow his nose,” adds Lapp, who’s impressed that Cox avoids making obviously commercial programming choices. “Doug sticks to his guns…he books music he likes and artists he respects.”
Although Lapp the musician is always happy to get paid as a “guest of the Fest,” he’ll also show up as just part of the audience, with his two young children in tow.
“I love MusicFest for families, and I thought it would be great to come up a couple of years ago and just hang out and follow my kids around for a change,” grins Lapp. “Usually it’s them following me around, so it was a lot of fun.”
Most parents are incredibly grateful for the thoughtful programming at Kidzone, which offers a rich mix of workshops and performances alongside supervised craft activities, storytelling, stilt walking, and much else.
“A festival has to be more than just concerts,” Lapp insists. “It should be a celebration of life and not just of music.
“But those marquee acts should be awesome. I think that the real joy is finding an exciting artist you’re unfamiliar with.
“And daytime at the smaller stages is where you’ll make those discoveries,” he adds. “Those are the moments you’ll really remember.”
Regulars to this festival know that the flavour of the lineup changes a bit year to year, depending on who’s available to be booked. And that eclecticism and variety is part of the appeal.
“This isn’t a folk festival, it isn’t a jazz festival . . . it’s perfectly named as MusicFest, as it offers a blend of great music,” concludes Lapp. “And coming here to play is a wonderful opportunity for any performer.”
–Robert Moyes is a Victoria-based arts journalist with a particular interest in music