Promotions for the Harrison Festival of the Arts has gone viral.
For the last several weeks, fans of the beachside event’s Facebook site have been getting sneak peeks of this year’s musical talent.
Using links to Youtube, festival staff have been able to cobble together a virtual walkthrough of this year’s lineup. It’s a new way to communicate with festival goers, says organizer Ed Stenson.
Through quickly clicking on the links on the festival’s Facebook site, viewers could virtually walk through the upcoming festival, have a listen, and plan out which shows to attend.
But those links were just a taste of what’s to come, Stenson says. The Harrison Festival Society left the biggest announcements for last, and announced their full line up this Tuesday. They’ve now updated their website (www.harrisonfestival.com) with all the same videos and complete information about the festival’s dates, times and ticket pricing.
The festival runs July 8 to 17 this year, kicking off with Steve Rily and the Mamou Playboys, and closing with James Cotton, a Grammy Award winning blues harmonica legend.
Stenson says he’s excited about all the acts. But it’s Etran Finatawa (July 14) that he’s really jazzed up about.
“It’s such a cool form of music, and they’re just all decked out,” he says. “It’s really something to watch.”
Etran Finatawa may not be a well known name here in the Fraser Valley, but they’ve travelled the world and their songs are so beloved in their home country of Niger that they’re sung by school children.
The band consists of musicians from the Tuareg and Wodaabe-Fulani tribes and was created for the 2004 Festival in the Desert, held near Timbuctou in Mali. They play desert, or nomad, blues, a traditional sound on electric guitars that clearly shows the African origin of today’s blues music.
Etran Finatawa’s distinct sound is testament to the variety that can be found at the Harrison Festival, now in its 33rd year.
Their long embroidered tunics, leather hose, turbans, ostrich feathers and face paint are completely different garb than most festival goers have seen on other African acts.
The rest of the lineup will take festival goers around the rest of the world, with music from Haiti, Hawaii, Ireland, Louisiana and from right here in Canada.
The festival format is the same, with ticketed evening shows in the newly-renovated— and now properly air-conditioned — Harrison Memorial Hall.
The evening performers are Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys (July 8), Tambura Rasa (July 9), Colin Linden (July 10), Beoga (July 13), Etran Finatawa (July 14), Ti-Coca and Wanga Neges (July 15), HAPA (July 16) and James Cotton’s Superharp Band (July 17).
Of course, the festival isn’t just about music. The Literary Cafe will be held July 11 and a theatre night, featuring acts chosen from the upcoming UFV Theatre Directors’ Festival, is slated for July 12.
Other highlights include an art market, which is still being juried, a children’s day (July 13), and music on the beach.
There’s a special First Nation theme to this year’s festival, with an aboriginal collaboration being presented on the beach on July 16 and 17.
Stenson says the collaboration, called New Directions, includes Leela Gilday, Kinnie Starr, Diyet, Diga and Cris Derksen.
That ties in with the art exhibit at the Ranger Station during the month of July, The Beating Heart: Spirit of Sts’ailes.
For more information visit www.harrisonfestival.com. Tickets are available online through the website, by phone at 604 796-3664 and in person at the Ranger Station Art Gallery.