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West Coast wonder brings bluegrass fest to Brackendale



What: Brackendale Bluegrass Festival

Where: Brackendale Art Gallery

When: Saturday and Sunday, May 3-4

Hot dang, there’s a bumper bluegrass weekend coming up in Brackendale. Yee-har, let’s load up the wagon. Coo-wee it’s a jamboree and workshop, chock-a-block with some of the west coast’s Bluegrass greats.

You’ll hear blues sure, but also elements of jazz, folk, rock, and gospel throughout the weekend. Dance, sing and pick up tips well into the night, in a mystical place back dropped by the star speckled sky. Whether you’re a music-maker or just a music-lover, expect the unique vibe that comes with acoustic open style festivals – passion from the players, inspiration from the atmosphere and enthusiasm from the crowd.

Stay close by in the Dryden Campground or get a reduced rate at the Rainforest Hostel in Squamish because the lineup has two days of tunesmiths you won’t want to miss.

On Saturday will be Shannon Saunders and the Splinters plus the Mountain Bluebirds and a banjo class by Don Dirksen. Sunday will be Five On a String and the Tragically Hick, plus a guitar class with Five On A String’s Gary Stevenson, who is the undefeated western Canada flat picking champion.

The inaugural bluegrass bash is the brainchild of Whistler music man, Cam Salay, who plays in the Splinters, the Bowen Boys and the Paper Boys. The bass and banjo legend had been mulling over the idea with Brackendale Art Gallery owner Thor Froslev, for years.

"There’s so much talent and interest in bluegrass in the corridor but there’s not really a venue for it," Salay said.

He credits festivals as being the inspiration behind his own bluegrass craft.

"You get exposed to styles that you normally can’t see too often and certainly won’t hear on radio so it’s a whole new world of music that you didn’t know existed," he said. "The bands are really user-friendly because they have time and space to play, making them really eager to share their craft with you. Through workshops and jam sessions, you can learn so much and make many contacts. I just love folk festivals for that."

Both evenings of the Brackendale Bluegrass Festival start at 6 p.m. with an open stage for all those keen to perform. The headline acts will come on at 8 p.m. Banjo and guitar classes each day will start at 3 p.m. and cost $20. To pre-register, call 604-898-2338 as space is limited.

Ticket prices for the Bracky Bluegrass Fest are $15 for one day or $25 for a two-day pass. To purchase tickets call 604-898-3333.