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Brackendale Bluegrass Festival goes for two

There’s another festival around this time...



What: Brackendale Bluegrass Festival

Where: Brackendale Art Gallery Theatre

When: Friday, April 30 - Saturday, May 1

Tickets: $15-$25

There’s another festival around this time, but it couldn’t be more different from the big air and bombast 10-day party that winds up this Sunday night in Whistler.

The Second Annual Brackendale Bluegrass Festival is a more down-home affair. Spanning just two days and taking place in the heart of Brackendale – the Brackendale Art Gallery Theatre – the event seems less a festival in comparison and more a family reunion.

Gallery owner Thor Froslev could be considered the Patriarch¯ he of the twinkling eyes and white beard, a true-blue bluegrass fan if ever there was one.

Then there’s the music – old-time harmonies over banjo and mandolin flavoured country-fied licks. The kind of music that gets ya dancin’ in the kitchen.

The music possesses a rare ageless appeal, which has earned it a mainstream profile. Bluegrass exploded in the late ’90s after the success of the compilation soundtrack for the Joel and Ethan Coen film O Brother Where Art Thou, and has maintained itself with the retro-chic revival of early Dolly Parton recordings and the haunting vocals of new face Mindy Smith.

"The gallery seems to have its own audience, and it’s all ages. There’ll be people 80 years old and younger people too, because it’s such a nice venue," says festival organizer Cam Salay, a local musician and Brackendale resident.

The feel and the format of the festival haven’t changed much from year No. 1. Salay, a member of Celtic duo the Bowen Boys, and bluegrass bands The Splinters (currently on a brief hiatus until frontwoman Shannon Saunders returns from Europe) and the Paperboys, is bringing together a crew to kick things off on Friday evening.

Following Salay and friends will be Vancouver six-piece band The Mountain Bluebirds, who played the inaugural festival, as well as the wrap party for the 18 th Annual Brackendale Winter Eagle Festival last February.

"We love Thor, and I really think it’s a beautiful place and I love to play there," said Bluebirds guitar player/vocalist Connie Jean Thiessen.

Included in the lineup are Vancouver veteran pickers Five On A String along with Don and Theresa Dirksen and Gary Stevenson, also up from Vancouver.

The venue will host a series of workshops on Saturday afternoon and the nature of the genre expects plenty of off-the-cuff collaborations.

"Bring an instrument; we’ll be jamming all night," Salay encourages. "Any of these bluegrass nuts that come to a festival expect jams all over the place. Probably after the shows we’ll be jamming on Friday night and Saturday night and all day Saturday."

Festival tickets are $15 for one evening show, $25 for both. Workshops are $20 each, just show up and pay the instructor.

To pre-register for workshops or reserve tickets call 604-935-9434. For more information on the Brackendale Art Gallery go to www.brackendaleartgallery.com.


Second Annual Brackendale Bluegrass Festival Lineup

Friday, April 30, 8 p.m.

Cam Salay & Guests

The Mountain Bluebirds

Saturday, May 1 — afternoon workshops

1 p.m. Vocal harmony with the Mountain Bluebirds

2:30 p.m. Banjo with Don Dirksen

4 p.m. Guitar flat-picking with Gary Stevenson

Saturday, May 1, 8 p.m.

Five On A String

Don & Theresa Dirksen with Gary Stevenson