Beòlach band members include Mairi Rankin (fiddle), Wendy MacIsaac (fiddle), Matt MacIsaac (pipes, whistle, guitar), and Mac Morin (piano). They perform July 17 at the Memorial Hall. (Submitted)

Boundary-pushers and party-makers at the 41st Harrison Festival of the Arts

Eclectic mix of reggae, folk, middle-eastern, jazz and more at this year’s festival starting July 12

The Harrison Festival of the Arts is known around the world for its creative and diverse entertainment and it returns to Harrison Hot Springs July 12 to 21.

This multidisciplinary event presents a variety of art forms, from film to theatre and visual art, but the bulk of the programming is roots music from around the globe. Artistic director Andy Hillhouse has put together a festival that contrasts boundary pushing artists from a variety of global cultures with music of celebration and the party spirit.

Korea’s Black String (July 17), are perhaps the most avant-garde of this year’s offerings. The band includes electric guitar alongside Korean instruments, creating soundscapes that evoke traditional and contemporary Korea simultaneously.

Vancouver’s Haram (July 19) combine middle-eastern and North African sounds with jazz improvisation. Led by Gordon Grdina (know widely for his work with folk-pop songwriter Dan Mangan), this large group uses popular songs from the middle east as its starting point and heads off in some wild sonic directions.

The Aerialists (July 19) offer a more chilled vibe, combining Celtic fiddle and harp with deep bass, drum, and guitar grooves. Their tasteful and refreshing approach to arranging Celtic music is informed by their schooling at the Berkley school of music in Boston.

Vancouver’s Dalava (July 21) is an homage to traditional Moravian (Czech) folk song, sourcing melodies transcribed over 100 years ago by the great-grandfather of Dálava’s singer, Julia Ulehla, and reanimating them in an extremely stirring, post-rock musical language.

All these acts will appear on the outdoor Beach Stage.

There will also be plenty of inspiration to dance and celebrate in the ticketed Memorial Hall shows.

The first Memorial Hall concert on July 13 will feature the ska, reggae, and cumbia sounds of Mexico’s Quinta Kalavera. With a name that evokes the culturally important Day of the Dead celebrations, their music speaks of social protest, the enjoyment of life, partying, love, and lack of love.

Louisiana’s Dwayne Dopsie and the Zydeco Hellraisers (July 19) will be playing authentic, danceable, rocking Zydeco music. Dopsie is the next generation of the Rockin’ Dopsie family that were pioneers of the blues/French influenced, accordion and washboard driven zydeco style. He has even been called the Jimi Hendrix of the accordion.

Cape Breton supergroup Beòlach (July 17) will bring the kitchen party to Harrison, with the highest calibre of traditional music from Canada’s Scottish heartland. Band members are Mairi Rankin (fiddle), Wendy MacIsaac (fiddle), Matt MacIsaac (pipes, whistle, guitar), and Mac Morin (piano).

This is only scratching the surface of the performers on offer from July 12-21 in Harrison. To have a look at the schedule of performances and the full lineup, check out harrisonfestival.com for all the details.

Tickets are now on sale and can be purchased online through the website, or in person at the Ranger Station Art Gallery, Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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