By Mariah McCooey-Despite monsoon rains Saturday, this year’s music festival in Tlell was, by all accounts, a fabulous weekend.
The theme this year was ‘tapping our roots’ – and it was a tribute to the musical culture on the islands that has evolved in isolation over decades of stormy winters and beach fires.
The Roots session was declared a success by everyone who witnessed it. Musicians who have contributed to the island-grown music scene over the past 30 years were brought together on Friday night for a reunion that drew a huge crowd.
“I’ve been around for a long time,” said musician Chini Har, “there will never be another night like that around here. It was magic.” These islands are full of talented musicians, he added. “It was great. A real treat to see some of them, after 30, 34 years.”
But in addition to the ‘island’ performers, there were several fantastic sets by groups from the mainland and from Victoria. One organizer, George Farrell, said that this year’s music was ‘fabulous.’
“It’s pretty cool, the variety of music. There’s a tendency here to be quite insular, and even though I love our local talent, it’s nice to have others performing.”
And the mix was impressive: from hip hop (Third Eye Tribe) to the Aaron English Band’s progressive rock/world rhythms, there was plenty of variety to spice the weekend up.
Pat Carrie Smith, sporting her “festival director” hat, says that the whole thing, and the roots session in particular, was a huge success.
“There was about a thousand people here on Friday night,” she said. “The energy was phenomenal.” All the performances and events went smoothly, she added, “even though there was a swimming pond, and a river running through the front gate.”
But if there’s one generalization to be made about islanders, it’s that a little rain is no deterrent. In fact, for some (okay, all the little kids) the pond in the field was the highlight of the weekend, especially once the skim-board arrived.
Volunteer coordinator Evelyn von Almassy said that this kind of island spirit is what makes events like these so enjoyable. “These islands draw a certain type of person. Everyone here is a little eccentric,” she said.
Eccentric maybe, but definitely talented. “There have been a lot of totally top-notch musicians,” she said, “and so many of them are multi-talented.” Indeed, many of the performers were also firespinning or cooking great food or dancing or volunteering for the festival.
“We really lucked out this year,” said Ms Smith, in terms of the talent. But it’s certainly not all luck: coordinators and volunteers put a lot of hours into making the festival run smoothly. The planning meetings began in January, she said.
Ms von Almassy estimated that she put about 120 hours into it. “I’ve been on the phone, on the computer, 24/7 for the past month,” she said.
It’s a lot of work to get something like this off the ground, but Ms Smith said in the end, it’s all worthwhile.
“When people are coming up to you, and saying they had a great time, it’s a really warm feeling,” she said.
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