The sun is shining, stages are going up, and volunteers are scouring the lawns of the Comox Valley Exhibition Grounds; all signs that mean the countdown to Vancouver Island MusicFest is officially on.
“Setup is going really well. We’ve got such an enthusiastic team,” said Doug Cox, the festival’s artistic director/executive producer.
With the festival set to begin Friday evening, Cox said the 50 volunteer crews have began the process of setting up signage to stages and everything in between for the three-day event, which sold out for the second straight year.
“I’ve been involved for 16 years, and we’ve seen kids grow up; there’s a lot of second-generation volunteers,” he added.
Cox said one of the new additions he is looking forward to this year is the Twilight In The Barn performances, with shows Saturday and Sunday evening until 9 p.m. to give bands more of a chance to play, and to have a more of a diverse age group at different stages, explained Cox.
“You can have big rock bands and you don’t have to worry about so sound spilling out to another stage.”
This year’s sold-out festival includes headliners such as Mary Chapin Carpenter and Marc Cohn, Kris Kristofferson, Indigo Girls and John Hiatt.
Cox said with the exception of the Burlington, Ont., quintet Walk Off The Earth which is scheduled for the Friday night Concert Bowl Stage, he has heard every other band he has booked live.
“I was introduced to the band by my daughters,” he admitted, and added he has, along with their loyal fan base of more than one million subscribers to their YouTube channel, viewed them online.
Cox explained he tries to cover a variety of musical styles and genres with the diverse lineup, but said he doesn’t try to manipulate the crowd by which bands he books.
“To quote Tony Bennett, the quality of music does not change depending on who’s listening to it,” he said.
“My goal is to keep providing the best festival possible and have faith that people will keep coming.”
For more information on Vancouver Island MusicFest, visit www.islandmusicfest.com.