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The bear comes out to play

Quest University's Dancing Bear Music Festival returns for a second year



What: Dancing Bear Music Festival

When: Sunday, April 25, 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Where: Quest University (Squamish)

Cost: $20 in advance, $25 at the gates, free for kids under 10

In a season full of music and festivals, there's always room for more. While Whistler is gearing up for its annual Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival celebrations, students at Squamish's Quest University are mobilizing for their own one-day event, the second annual Dancing Bear Music Festival.

Krista Caldwell is a second-year student at Quest University and is co-chairing the coordination committee for the festival, which is being funded by the Student Representatives' Council. She explained that the idea was to celebrate and showcase B.C.'s talented musicians while giving back to the community that has welcomed the new educational institution into its folds.

"We wanted the opportunity to share something with the community," Caldwell said. "It's a really nice space, as well."

The inaugural event, held last April, attracted about 300 people - a mixture of students, faculty and their friends and family. This year organizers are hoping to draw about 700 attendees to the grassy slope that looks toward the Tantalus Mountain Range. Over time, organizers would like to see the event continue to grow.

"Last year and probably this year, too, it's not going to recover all the money we put in, but hopefully by next year or the year after it will be sustainable and it can hopefully be a fundraiser-type event," Caldwell said.

The 2010 lineup includes a range of performers from throughout the province and as far away as Calgary.

"I think it's really good! We've got lots of diversity," Caldwell said.

The lineup certainly is eclectic, boasting a range of rock, jazz, and other genres to appeal to the music-loving masses.

The day kicks off at 11:30 a.m. with a performance by students from Quest who make up Fogon, which is Spanish for campfire, and celebrates the act of coming together to share. Their act is a cacophony of folky, rocky, twangy, gospel and jazzy sounds that echo through the Highlands when members of the Quest community come together to play.

Following Fogon is Jenny, a rotating collective of friends from Calgary and Squamish fronted by Quest student Sean Hamilton. This group creates music to keep themselves and those around them from "falling into the machine of tradition, media culture and the bitterness of nine to five workdays."

Next up, at 2:10 p.m., is Miss Emily Brown, who combines insightful lyrics with timeless melodies, inspired by journals the artist discovered in her grandmother's attic. Playing a combination of guitar, auto harp, stand up bass, violin and vocals, Miss Brown lays it all on the table for the crowd.

No stranger to the Sea to Sky stage, Vancouver Island's veritable one-man-band, Shane Philips, returns with his orchestration of rhythmic reverberation and didgeridoo drone. This undeniable island spirit wows the crowds and draws them to their feet by combining aslatua, djembe, guitar and vocals.

At 4:50 p.m., Vancouver's The Rare Birds bring their East Coast-inspired folk sounds infused with rock, funk, ska and bluegrass vibes to the stage, singing an eclectic mix of sweet harmonies.

Then, Current Swell picks the tempo up a bit with an evening show at 6:10 p.m. The Vancouver Island-based band fuses folk and blues, reggae-inspired, and rock-driven riffs, creating a sound that is equal parts Prairie and coastal. It's a blend of acoustic guitars, a lap slide, harmonica, drums, bass and three vocal mics.

Last but not least, Dan Mangan of Vancouver steps into the spotlight with his emotionally-laced ballads and simple, memorable lyrical phrases, taking the crowd on an auditory journey across Canada.

The springtime festival promises to be a laidback good time with lots of lounging on the lawn, hoola-hooping and dancing. And it's going ahead rain or shine, so if the heavens open, Caldwell says "we're going to party in the rain!"

There will also be a marketplace area onsite, featuring community groups, local businesses and vendors, a barbecue and an arts and crafts area for kids.

For more information on the lineup, or to buy tickets online, visit www.dancingbearmusicfestival.com. Tickets can also be purchased at Highlife Records in Vancouver, or Zephyr Café and Bean Around the World in Squamish.

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