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Harrison Festival of the Arts announces lineup for 39th annual summer event

Harrison Festival of the Arts announces lineup for 39th annual summer event

With the highly successful rollout of their new website, Harrison Festival Society, has also embarked on one of their greatest seasons to date with a stellar new line-up.

This summer, the Harrison Festival of the Arts will celebrate its 39th festival at Harrison Hot Springs between July 8-16. The festival continues its longstanding format of free access shows on the Beach Stage and ticketed events in the Harrison Memorial Hall, as well as a Literary Café, Evening of Theatre, and Children’s Day midweek. The programming this year will include the following themes:

Music from Canada’s regions: Much of the programming this year spans our shared land. It celebrates its physical and cultural diversity and the varied experiences of those living here. From the recent immigrant viewpoints of African or Latin American musicians in major centres such as Toronto or Montreal, to the folkways of Ukrainian settlers in the Canadian prairies, to contemporary expressions of indigenous peoples, the program this year features an array of stories and sounds from north, south, east, and west.

East coast acts will include Cape Breton traditional band Coig performing in the hall, while their fellow Nova Scotians, powerful indie folk rockers Hillsburn, will be on the Beach Stage. From the north we have Yukon singer-songwriter Diyet and the flying gwi’chin fiddler Boyd Benjamin. Benjamin’s nickname is derived from the fact that he is indeed a commercial pilot steeped in northern fiddle music. Bartists include two of our best local feel good world music acts, Buckman Coe and the band Coco Jafro. From BC Cariboo, Jason and Pharis Romero will present their gorgeous, old time influenced harmonies in a double bill in the hall with celebrated B.C. singer songwriter Stephen Fearing. Resettled from the prairies, creative indigenous cellist Cris Derksen and Ukrainian band Zeellia combine the traditional and contemporary in compelling ways. These and several other artists will represent the breadth of this land of Canada.

Celtic soul and virtuosity Cape Breton’s Coig is not the only world class Celtic music act on the roster. Traditional Irish singer Daoiri Farrell is a recent winner of two BBC Folk Music Awards and has a powerful and memorable voice, as does Scottish singer Paul McKenna, who will be performing with virtuoso Scottish traditional band Rura. While perhaps not strictly Celtic, accordion virtuoso Filippo Gambetta draws on a range of European styles including those of his native Northern Italy. From Quebec, Yann Falquet and Pascal Gemme perform sensitive and beautiful arrangements of traditional songs and dance music.

Afro-Carribbean traditions and intersections

The festival is excited to bring a very special group from Haiti, Chouk Bwa Libete. This group performs spiritual drum and dance music of the African-based voudou tradition, in a form that is close to the roots of its original ritual context, but designed for performance. The theme of African connections to the Caribbean is also found in Vancouver drum and dance group Kokomo, who bring together Nigerian traditions with their closely related Afro-Cuban styles. Friday hall performer, Adonis Puentes and the Voice of Cuba Orchestra, demonstrates the secular offspring of such Afro-based spiritual traditions, with danceable and elegant renditions of popular Cuban son, cumbia, and cha-cha music.

And of course more hall shows.

Our hall shows are 100 percent Canadian this year. The week begins with Fernie-based folk rockers Shred Kelly, a band that has been appealing to young and not so young alike at many festivals across Canada for the past few years. The first weekend rounds off Sunday with the great Colin Linden, one of Canada’s best known blues artists. The following Saturday is the Gypsy Kumbia Orchestra, an explosion of dance, music, and circus-like revelry from Montreal, and the festival finishes with Guinean born guitarist Alpha Diallo and his band. Alpha’s connections to the festival run deep – he performed here on his first international tour back in the 80s.

The festival is multidisciplinary, so while music is our main feature, the other arts feature prominently. Our Literary Café, a collaboration with the University of the Fraser Valley, will celebrate summer with readings from the upcoming collection BC Summer, published by Mona Furtig. The lineup will include popular CBC personality and writer Grant Lawrence, Kent-Harrison Arts Council artist in residence Bren Simmers, and rising Vancouver writer Chelene Knight. We will continue as well with our evening of theatre, this year featuring highlights of the new Rickrack in the Wack theatre festival in Chilliwack. Our Children’s Day on Wednesday July 12 will have a more theatrical focus than in past years, with The Purple Pirate and Vancouver Puppet Theatre featuring alongside musician Boris Sichon and local storyteller Shayna Northey.