Daniel Lapp is performing at the Sooke River Bluegrass Festival on the Father's Day weekend

Daniel Lapp is performing at the Sooke River Bluegrass Festival on the Father's Day weekend

Bluegrass festival is back better than ever

Festival will have square dancing in the big tent at the Sooke Flats

Pirjo Raits

Sooke News Mirror

It’s been two years since there’s been a bluegrass festival in Sooke and there are many fans who have missed the yearly event usually held mid-June.

“We’re on!,” exclaims Larry Statland, one of the festival directors.

For 11 years, the banjos and fiddles, guitars and bass were heard resounding through the valley as bands struck up a chord and let ‘er rip. Some of the best bluegrass pickers and strummers journeyed out to Sooke to start off the season of bluegrass festivals. But, for the past two years, the fiddles were silent at the Sooke Flats and people missed it, said Statland.

This year, the festival, which takes place June 14 to 16, will have a new feature — square dancing!

“We’re going to have a Saturday night square dance under the tent,” said Statland. “A real live square dancer with a caller and a band. The caller promises to be gentle with the newbies, so don’t be scared.”

Statland mentioned that this used to be the way guys met girls and it still works.

The organizers are trying to round up a huge circus tent which they say would be ideal for the dance.

There is a resurgence of square dancing in Victoria and it is mostly young people who are do sa doing, allemande letting and rolling away with a half sashay.

“We’ve been organizing dances with them, we hope they show up cause they are a lot of fun,” said Statland. “The more people there, the better it is. Square dance has a rural base and it kind of disappeared and it’s interesting how young people go back to it.”

He said a lot of older folks remember square dancing and thinks it would be great to have both groups there at the same time.

“There’s not very many events where young and old can participate — I’d like to see that,”

The festival, along with the main stage performances, will have a number of workshops for musicians, as well as, what Statland calls the best part, the jamming around the campsite.

“Most music festivals are meant for people to listen, but here you go and play music with other people, the main stage is secondary,” he said. “The best music you’re going to hear is in the campsites and everyone can stand by and listen.”

Plus Slow Pitch Jam, Open Stage, Flat Picking Competition, Instrument Workshops including the fiddle, banjo, guitar, dobro and mandolin, and the Big Top Square Dance on Saturday night.

Weekend Pass $50 – Friday Only $20 – Saturday Only $30 – Sunday Only $10 – Tickets available at the Royal McPherson Box Office 250-386-6121 or at any Victoria Bluegrass Association event. Ticket prices do not include camping fees (which will vary according to a campers requirements).

The festival is family friendly and features a wide range of acoustic talent, food vendors and music workshops.

All of the bands performing are from Vancouver Island and include such notables as The Sweet Lowdown, Clover Point Drifters, Maple Mountain Boys, Moonshiners, Riverside Bluegrass Band, Eric Day and Friends, Riverside Trio and the Hub City Rambler Duo.

The Moonshiners first played at the Sooke River Bluegrass Festival in 2010, except they were all in different bands at the time; Flash in the Pan, Skagway and Last Train. This year, after the festival hiatus, the Moonshiners are back with a new name and a vengeance.

“We’re excited about that,” said Chris Herbst. “It’s good that the festival is back on.”

The Moonshiners got their name from an old traditional song called Moonshiner and they adopted the moniker when they formed the band to play gigs every Sunday night at Swans Pub in Victoria.

“We thought the name Moonshiners would fit for a bar band,” said Herbst.

But it is all about the music after all, and the Moonshiners play classic bluegrass, honkey tonk, blues and funk. Herbst says they are probably more diverse than the average bluegrass band. They are known for their powerful three-part harmonies, danceable grooves and wild instrumental excursions. They are West Coast urban.

Born and raised in Prince George, British Columbia, Daniel Lapp learned the joy of fiddle music from his grandfather, five uncles and numerous accordion playing aunts. Family events were excuses to play music and he carries this tradition into a new era and contemporary culture.

The Maple Mountain Boys  are a bluegrass band based in the Cowichan Valley who are quickly becoming fan favourites. Bringing together a group of veteran and new musicians, they showcase their own unique style of hard driving bluegrass that ranges from easy listening to traditional flavoured songs.

The Hub City Ramblers bring their own west coast style to the traditional brother duo. The music they play speaks to old world sensibilities, but leaves you feeling fresh and new. Brad Shipley’s mandolin work is filled with cascading melodies and ear catching fills, and Ira Pelletier’s guitar playing is soulful and intense. They play a mix of traditional bluegrass, old time songs and instrumentals, as well as original tunes.

The Sweet Lowdown is an acoustic roots trio from Victoria. Drawn together by mutual passion for old-time groove, hard driving bluegrass, sweet harmonies and well-wrought songs, The Sweet Lowdown (Amanda Blied, guitar,; Shanti Bremer, banjo and Miriam Sonstenes, fiddle) blend original song-writing with old time roots music to create a sound that is both unique and timeless.

Originally conceived as a duo in 2008 by Blied and Bremer, The Sweet Lowdown recorded a seven song EP with Adam Iredale-Gray (Fish & Bird), touring and performing in the Pacific Northwest.

By the spring of 2010, the duo was ready to develop a fuller sound and fiddler Sonstenes joined the group.  The newly formed trio quickly set to work refining their new sound and in January 2011 they traveled by train to Parry Sound, Ontario, to record their self-titled debut album with musician and sound engineer Andrew Collins (Creaking Tree String Quartet, Foggy Hogtown Boys). By 2011 the trio had garnered quite a local following and won the Monday Magazine M-Award for Favorite Roots/World Music Group.  In June they released their debut album which was nominated for 2012 “Album of the Year” by the Vancouver Island Music Awards.

More information on the festival, the entertainers, tickets and schedule is available on the Sooke River Bluegrass Music Festival website at: www.sookebluegrass.com

Be there or be square (dancing that is).

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Ron Sivorot, business director at Kennametal’s Langford site, the Greater Victoria facility that made a component being used on NASA’s Perseverance rover on Mars. (Jake Romphf, Black Press Media)
NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover using piece made at Kennametal’s Langford site

The Greater Victoria plant’s tooth blank is helping the rover’s drill collect rock cores

A provincially appointed consultant has recommended a change to the funding formula for the VicPD that will save Esquimalt a significant amount of money. (Black Press Media file photo)
Esquimalt to save a bundle on policing costs under new formula

Provincial consultant studied funding model, resource deployment for VicPD

A rockfall closed Finlayson Arm Road and West Shore Parkway on Friday (March 5) afternoon. (Twitter/BC Transportation)
UPDATED: Malahat reopens following rockfall

Section of Trans-Canada Highway was scheduled for intermittent closures today for rock scaling work

A Victoria resident was scammed out of $1,700 after a fraudster impersonated a police officer and convinced the victim to pay a non-existent fine in Bitcoin. (Unsplash)
Fraudster impersonates Victoria police officer, steals $1,700 in Bitcoin

Phone call showed up as VicPD’s non-emergency line

The Tsartlip First Nation was outraged after Green MLA Adam Olsen revealed on social media that the community had been experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak – a fact the First Nation had chosen to keep private to avoid racist backlash as experienced by the Cowichan Tribes when an outbreak was declared there in January. (Black Press Media file photo)
Tsartlip First Nation ‘outraged’ after Green MLA revealed COVID-19 outbreak

Chief shares concerns about racist backlash, MLA Adam Olsen apologizes

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C. on the COVID-19 situation. (B.C. government)
Dr. Bonnie Henry predicts a ‘post-pandemic world’ for B.C. this summer

‘Extending this second dose provides very high real-world protection to more people, sooner’

Malawian police guard AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines after the shipment arrived in Lilongwe, Malawi, Friday March 5, 2021. Canada is expecting its first shipments of AstraZeneca vaccine next week. (Associated Press/Thoko Chikondi)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 cases climb to 634 Friday, four more deaths

Currently 255 people in hospital, 66 in intensive care

A crashed helicopter is seen near Mt. Gardner on Bowen Island on Friday March 5, 2021. Two people were taken to hospital in serious but stable condition after the crash. (Irene Paulus/contributed)
2 people in serious condition after helicopter goes down on Bowen Island

Unclear how many passengers aboard and unclear where the helicopter was going

Surrey Pretrial in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. transgender inmate to get human rights hearing after being held in mostly male jail

B.C. Human Rights Tribunal member Amber Prince on March 3 dismissed the pretrial’s application to have Makayla Sandve’s complaint dismissed

Supporters rally outside court as Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church is in court to appeal bail conditions, after he was arrested for holding day services in violation of COVID-19 rules, in Edmonton, Alta., on Thursday March 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
‘Law remains valid:’ Pastor accused of violating health orders to remain in jail

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms is representing the pastor

The Netflix logo on an iPhone. B.C. delayed imposing sales tax on digital services and sweetened carbonated beverages as part of its response to COVID-19. Those taxes take effect April 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Matt Rourke
B.C. applies 7% sales tax on streaming, vaping, sweet drinks April 1

Measures from 2020 budget were delayed due to COVID-19

A lawyer wears a face mask and gloves to curb the spread of COVID-19 while waiting to enter B.C. Supreme Court, in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, Aug. 28, 2020. British Columbia’s highest court has sided with the land owner in a dispute over public access to public land. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. high court finds in favour of large landowner in fight over access to pair of lakes

The Nicola Valley Fish and Game Club launched legal action after the cattle company blocked road and trail access

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a press conference in Ottawa Friday, March 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau holds firm on premiers’ health-care funding demands, COVID-19 aid comes first

Premiers argue that the current amount doesn’t keep pace with yearly cost increases of about five per cent

Free Reformed Church is seen as people attend service, in Chilliwack, B.C., on Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021. Lawyers for the British Columbia government and the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms are back in B.C. Supreme Court today, squaring off over the legality of COVID-19 rules that prohibit in-person religious services. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. top doctor has power to restrict access to a place during health hazard: lawyer

Under B.C.’s Public Health Act, Jacqueline Hughes says, Henry can restrict or prevent entry to a place

Most Read