There’s quality and there’s quantity.
The 17th annual Vancouver Island MusicFest had both.
Opening Thursday with multi-Grammy winner Alison Krauss & Union Station, and closing Sunday night with ’60s icon David Crosby, the exhibition grounds once again hummed with a variety of musical styles throughout the course of the weekend.
“Too many to speak of,” said associate producer Meaghan Cursons, noting the Saturday night performance of social satirist Randy Newman. “When one guy on a piano can hold the audience for 75 minutes…Certain songs when he started playing, everyone looked in and started listening.
“It’s rare that we have a performer that pulls everyone in from across the generations and there’s a stillness over the air. That was a beautiful moment.”
She also noted the adoration that was clearly evident at Crosby’s show.
“I think there are a lot of people out there who just wanted to stand in his presence. What an amazing musician, and just a quintessential North American musician’s story. David Crosby is that.”
She said the festival also featured “a million other magical moments.”
Like guitarist Albert Lee and singer Jon Anderson reuniting since the last time they saw each other about 30 years ago.
Artistic director/executive producer Doug Cox spoke to a number of attendees who said it was the festival’s best-ever lineup.
“The Alison Krauss concert was absolutely stunning,” Cox said. “We made a lot of great improvements this year, including the sound quality at the main stage and the placing of the stage. And just how peaceful everything was. We had very few incidents this year compared to previous years.”
Cox, an accomplished musician who tours festivals around the world, hears time and again from performers that MusicFest is the best festival in terms of how it’s run.
Statistics indicate that for every dollar spent producing a festival of this magnitude, four dollars are spent within the community.
“We have a million-dollar operating budget now,” Cox said. “I’m sure we’ve brought millions of dollars into the community.
“The spirit of the whole festival was just amazing this year,” he added. “Our volunteers are incredible — as good as it gets.”
This year was the first time the event has run four days, which means a longer family vacation for some attendees.
Ticket sales are still being counted, but Cursons said attendance has been stable in recent years thanks to a loyal following.
“It felt like it was nice and full but there was still room to breathe at the edges,” she said, noting the sense of community inherent in the festival year after year. “If we continue to have support of the business community and local government, we can keep this thing going for another 17 years.”
More photos, page 10.