The final lineup for the Whistler Presents Concert Series, unveiled last week, is filled with an eclectic mix of rock, folk and world music for its 2013 season.
The shows — running at Olympic Plaza — kick off on June 29 with the Canadian folkies in the Daniel Lapp Band and jazz singer Matt Dusk. The next evening, rockers 54-40 will take the stage followed by a Canada Day lineup that includes Ruckus Deluxe, Norman Foote, Kalan Wi and Jeremy Fisher.
"I think people really relate to good music," says Kristen Robinson, producer for brand.Live who helped select the lineup. "Whether it's good music like Matt Dusk... a crooner who has had a bunch of number one radio hits and will appeal to a broad audience, but maybe skews a little 40-plus, to being able to walk in and experience Taj Weekes, this amazing reggae musician, humanitarian and poet. We are booking in the middle of the village in the pedestrian mall so it's being able to find that line."
Other highlights throughout the summer include rock act The Trews, singer-songwriter Alex Cuba, Vancouver favourites The Boom Booms and Hey Ocean! along with folk-rock singer Danny Michel and indie pop darling Hannah Georgas. The series will wrap up on Sept. 1 with locals Jeremy Thom, Animal Nation and Ali Milner along with headliners The Current Swell.
Two strong female vocalists are on Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden's radar. "Hannah Georgas, I love her," she says. "And of course I've got to put in a plug for Ali Milner. She's just so good. It blows my mind really."
The free series was created to enhance the visitor experience in the village, not necessarily to draw visitors, though sometimes it has that effect too. "We hear from guests that they come here and they don't really know that there are things going on and then they bump into a concert or they see some of the animation in the village and it really adds to the experience," Wilhelm-Morden says. "Then there are people who come up specifically for the concert series. We found that especially with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra last year and we expect that will happen again."
Curators have to balance a host of requirements when shaping the roster, Robinson adds. "We get a lot of recommendations from people who love music and other bands recommend other bands or you trust the agents or you trust the writers and people who are passionate," she says. "It has to do with pricing, availability, schedules, radius clauses, flights available and all that kind of stuff. It's like putting together a big puzzle."
The artists themselves also have to tow the line between being compelling and having a wide enough appeal to attract a varied demographic. Given the 7:30 p.m. start time (some special shows like the one on Canada Day run at other times. Check Pique's listings each week for full details) the bands also have to be family friendly. "It's not about breaking artists, necessarily, though some of them are up-and-comers," Robinson says. "It's about being able to look out and see three or four thousand people with smiles on their faces."