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H'Sao will perform July 5 as part of a diverse line up for this year's Festival of the Arts.
— image credit: Jessica Peters/ Observer

This year's Harrison Festival of the Arts will mark an astonishing 35 years of entertainment on the beach.

It also marks the end of an era, as Ed and Phyllis Stenson retire from their roles at the helm of the organization, the Harrison Festival Society. Their successors are firmly in place and ready to take the reins for next year, but in the meantime here is the run down for this year's musical offerings.

Music Highlights at 35th Harrison Festival

The Harrison Festival of the Arts, July 6 to 14, has always presented the best music that Canada and the World has to offer, and the 35th annual Festival will be no exception.  With Beach Stage concerts available for only $2 a day and ticketed Evening Concerts in the venerable Harrison Memorial Hall, as well as a wide range of performers and styles, the Harrison Festival is a music lovers dream.

North American Traditions

Deep Roots

On the Beach Stage, pre-European roots will be represented by Iskwew Singers (BC/MB), three women who create and perform music in the Plains Cree tradition.  Then the French arrived in North America and De Temps Antan (QC) glory in the joie de vivre of Quebec Traditional.  Bon Debarras (QC) is also heavily inspired by tradition and has one of hottest step-dancers going today.

Roots & Blues

Featured Hall performer Harry Manx (BC) is called the “Mysticssippi” Bluesman for his style of Blues with a hint of India.  A multiple Juno winner, Manx will play on July 7. On the Beach Stage, Ray Bonneville (QC/USA) is a veteran Bluesman, now based in the U.S. Digging Roots (ON) are a kicking blues-rock band with First Nations influences.  Petunia & the Vipers (BC) yodel croon and roar. Playing music of the 1930s and 40s, Petunia combines Jimmie Rogers with Tom Waits. Sandy Bone & the Breakdown (BC) sing of honky-tonks and juke-joints, women, whiskey and trains.

The Troubadours

Featured Hall performers and Juno winners The Wailin’ Jennys (MB/USA) are three women with incredible harmony singing who will close the Festival on July 14. Performing on the Beach Stage and at Children’s Day, Fred Penner (ON) is the well-known TV personality and musician who put “The Cat Came Back” on the map.  Also featured are sets by talented songwriters Tom Taylor (BC) and Rock Moran (BC).

International Traditions

African

A special treat, legendary African performer Oliver Mtukudzi & the Black Spirits (Zimbabwe) will play a Hall Concert on July 11. Returning favorites H’Sao (QC/Chad) will open the Festival at a Hall Concert on July 5. On the Beach Stage one of Central Africa’s biggest pop stars Laetitia Zonzambe Quartet (QC/Central African Republic) plays.  With a mix of Reaggae, Soca and Dancehall, Ezra Kwizera (BC/Rwanda) should get the beach up and dancing.

Latin

Locarno (BC/USA/Mexico/Cuba) is the Latin project of Tom Landa (the Paperboys) and plays a Hall Concert on July 6. Mamselle (QC/Mexico) moved to Canada only a few years ago, but has become central to our Latin music scene, and plays a Hall Concert on July 13 and on the Beach Stage. Also on the Beach Stage is Rumba Calzada (BC/Mexico/Cuba), one of BC’s best known Latin Groups. And for award winning Latin classics, Cuban Fire (Cuba) fills the bill

A World Tour

The rest of the line-up becomes a musical journey from Ireland to China. Hall performers Alan Kelly Gang (Ireland), features the maestro of the accordion and the Emerald Isle’s finest traditional musicians  on July 10. Hall concert performers Tambura Rasa (BC/Central Europe/Middle East) play on July 12. Tambura Rasa feature a range of World music and two Flamenco dancers.  On the Beach Stage, Briga Music (QC/Central Europe), brings the infectious sounds of the Romani (gypsy) people.  The original East/West collaboration, Silk Road Music (BC/China) blends Chinese Folk and Classical with western genres like Jazz and Blues and other cultures like Celtic, Latin and Arabic.

Tickets, Info, Contact:

For tickets, information on performers and scheduled times, see the website at www.harrisonfestival.com or the Harrison Festival Society at the Ranger Station Art Gallery in Harrison, phone 604-796-3664. Early bird prices are in effect until June 21. Senior and children discounts available.

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