The 37th annual Harrison Festival of the Arts will be wrapping up its nine day program in beautiful Harrison Hot Springs, BC July 17 to 19 with a final weekend packed with rich family heritage and long-standing musical traditions.
Performing the Beach Stage July 17 & 19, Les Poules à Colin and The O’Schraves have a deep history together, representing at least five Franco-Ontarian and Quebecois musical clans. Spending numerous summers together since they were small kids at the Algoma Trad music and dance camp in Northern Ontario, these two groups are deeply entrenched in traditional family music. North Vancouver’s Vashaan Ensemble, performing the Beach Stage July 18, also have family at their core. Parents Reza and Fatieh Honari raised their children Hamin and Hidayat with a love of traditional Persian music. While not related to one another, Senegalese kora player Boujou Cissoko and Beninian guitarist Yoro Noukoussi also come from musical families. They are collaborating for a special Beach Stage performance July 19 representing the best of Vancouver’s African music scene.
Enriching the concept of traditional music are a number of other Beach Stage performers. Drawing on Old Time Southern music, with clawhammer banjo at the forefront and beautiful falsetto singing, Oliver Swain’s BIG MACHINE brings a contemporary sensibility to the traditional, even drawing on the repertoire of great Canadian songwriter Leonard Cohen. Suzie Vinnick also combines the contemporary with the traditional, in the realm of acoustic blues. Vancouver’s Paul Pigat, well known for his rockabilly incarnation Cousin Harley, brings his own country blues project Boxcar Campfire to the scenic waterfront Beach Stage. Finally, New York fusion band Matuto manages to combine Appalachian music with Brazilian grooves – a combination that results in a rollicking groove that will get everyone to their feet.
Also rocking up traditional styles July 18 in the intimate Memorial Hall is Bassekou Kouyat é & Ngoni Ba from Mali. Bassekou plays electrified versions of the ngoni, a type of West African acoustic string instrument, along with his sons and features the fine singing of Amy Sacko, his wife.
Not to be overlooked are two more stellar evening performances in the air-conditioned Memorial Hall. July 17, The Harpoonist & The Axe Murderer guarantee to put on a rocking blues show. The band’s colourful name references the harp (harmonica) and axe (guitar) of Shawn Hall and Matthew Rogers, a duo who pump out hard driving contemporary electric blues. The final show of the Festival July 19 is soulful Newfoundland trio The Once. This group embodies the heritage of Newfoundlander’s love for great song and making the audience feel welcome and included in the performance. Back from touring the world with Passenger, The Once is a fitting close for what promises to be an exciting and heartwarming series of acts this year.
The Festival’s weekend workshops and waterfront Art Market also have strong connections to tradition. Saturday’s workshop in the Memorial Hall with Les Poules à Colin and The O’Schraves brings their huge repertoire of toe-tapping Quebecois and Ontarian tunes for a called dance workshop with Seattle caller Suzanne Girardot. Sunday workshops include the very popular Aboriginal Drum Making with Sts’ailes artist Darren Charlie and participatory Crystal Spirit Sound Healing with Elizabeth Mueller and Cheryl Redfern.
A staple feature of the Festival for more than 25 years, the juried art market features more than 50 plus vendors representing the legacy of craftsmanship from traditional first nations art to contemporary takes on woodworking, body products, ceramics, jewelry and more.
With two music venues, a waterfront Art Market, Visual Art Exhibit, Children’s Day, weekend workshops, Literary Cafe, Evening of Theatre and new Acoustic Stage the Harrison Festival of the Arts is an event for the whole family.
Admission to the Beach Stage, Art Market, Workshops and Visual Art Exhibit is by donation. Children 12 and under are admitted free to evening Memorial Hall shows. Complete lineup and tickets for the 37th annual Harrison Festival of the Art are available online at www.harrisonfestival.com, by phone at 604-796-3664 or in person at the Ranger Station Art Gallery in Harrison.