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C.R. Avery headlines Cypress Point Winter Carnival

Second annual event a two-day celebration of winter, cold or warm(ish)

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The partiers at this year's Cypress Point Winter Carnival are in for a treat, because headliner C.R. Avery is ready to blow the lid off the joint with his band The Special Interest Group.

The festival, in its second year, takes place at The Point on Alta Lake in Whistler on Saturday, Feb. 21, and Sunday, Feb. 22.

Avery, a Vancouver-based, beat-boxing bluesman, debuted his musical Some Birds Walk for the Hell of It earlier this year and it is set to take up much of the year touring, including for a month in Toronto and another performance in New York.

It has been a very busy time and the man is ready to hit the stage with his friends.

"The musical is very elaborate. There's, like, seven lighting cues every two minutes and I have to hit my mark because I have dancers and it's a lot of work. I love doing it but it's very tedious," Avery says.

So when he got the call from organizer Stephen Vogler to perform at the carnival, it was a no-brainer.

"It's just really exciting for me and I could call up some of the best players in town to just, like, play some music," Avery says.

He says doing a musical is a world away from grabbing an instrument, doing a sound check, stepping onstage and playing.

Avery is one of those honourary Whistlerites, having played here for many years.

"The atmosphere and the Whistler crowd, they're just so ready to dance and have a good time. I just compiled all the musicians I'd been missing for the last little while I've been away doing the musical, and we are ready," he says.

His friends are going with him because they've missed hopping into a car and going off to perform together.

"We're going to play for three hours, we're all excited. I just want to do the songs that I love. It's going to be a totally beautiful, total love vibe. I want to harmonize in four parts, listen to my man take a killer guitar solo... I just to play music with great musicians," Avery says.

Joining him in the five-piece group is guitarist Noel Walker, who Avery describes as having a punk/jazz background and a showman's style.

"He can literally chart a 40-piece orchestra if he needs to and if a session person sends him 20 songs he can learn them in a night. His ears are incredible," Avery says.

And violinist Kathleen Nesbitt joins them.

"She a bluegrass burner of the violin and a great harmonizer," he says.

Vogler calls Avery "a chameleon artist."

He says: "I've had him up here four times and each time is different. There will be a horn section and Dixieland blues. It should be a really good show."

They perform at the carnival's kick-off evening dinner show on the Saturday, Feb. 21 at 7 p.m. Opening for them will be theatre sketches by Bush Woman Productions.

The afternoon of Sunday, Feb. 22, features free family events from noon to 5 p.m.

They decided to hold the carnival over two days because it made it easier for the volunteers.

Vogler says the weather will be the guest that determines the action outside. With the temperatures likely to reach double digits, it will look a little different than last year's inaugural carnival.

"It's kind of interesting, because last year we had less than an ideal winter happening and then on the evening of the carnival it started snowing and it dumped for weeks after that. I think we're pretty much responsible for that," Vogler laughs.

"By celebrating winter, no matter what, it delivers."

So presuming the weather is on the warm side, activities will include snow-beach volleyball, and campfires with music by Whistler guitarist Susan Holden.

There will also be hot food, and a cash bar.

"Michelle Bush is also putting on theatre for children. The kids learn what she calls 'over-acting workshops,' some over-the-top acting moves and do a little performance," Vogler says.

There will also be crafts.

Vogler is wistful for a few games of shinny hockey on the lake and last year's popular igloo building exercise.

"People were skating three weeks ago. I was a bit shocked they were out there and because it got a little bit cool for a few nights they were out there," he says.

And there will once more be ice sculpting.

"We're going to try and harvest ice from the lake because there is still ice there; how thick it is right now I don't know. There may be miniature-type pieces. Last year it was a foot-and-half thick and we had these metre-high pieces," Vogler says.

"It was a big job getting them out of the water."

They even welded special tongs to get the ice out.

"But if the ice melts we will get some in, one way or another," he adds.

Tickets for the dinner with theatre and music ranges from $9 to $25 (there is a non-dinner option). Visit www.thepointartists.com for more information and tickets.

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