The Atlin Arts and Music Festival has announced most of the lineup for this summer’s 10th-anniversary celebration, and it promises a hodgepodge of family fun.
“What we’ve tried to do with our lineup is make sure that there’s one act that really resonates with each member of our audience,” said producer Kim Winnicky. “And our audience is so diverse. Literally we have everyone from grandparents and great-grandparents down to two-year-olds.”
While the music often steals the spotlight, the festival has much more to offer.
There will be dance, visual art, workshops, food, storytelling, film and more. And the music covers a broad range, as well.
Winnicky has something special in store for country music fans this year. Michelle Wright, recently inducted into the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame, will perform.
“I’m bringing her up because many of our audiences have said they really want a true country artist to come up, and we haven’t really featured that before, so this is a gift to those people who have been waiting for 10 years for that to happen.”
She’s also excited about Salts Spring Island’s Harry Manx, whose music fuses together the blues with Hindustani classical music.
He’ll play a set with Toronto’s Kevin Breit, who recently visited Whitehorse as part of the Frostbite festival. Both musicians will also play solo sets.
Breit’s “energy and the rawness of his playing is so powerful,” said Winnicky.
Several of the bands have visited Whitehorse before, and wowed Winnicky enough for her to invite them back.
Hawksley Workman, a prolific Canadian musician, is almost theatrical in his performance, said Winnicky.
“He was up at the arts centre several years ago and he went on this whole tangent on ‘80s music, and he took the crowd on this ‘80s musical journey. It was crazy.”
And the Crooked Brothers, a trio from Winnipeg, caught Winnicky by surprise at a Home Routes show.
“I saw them in a house concert that had only had five people including me, and they just gave it, even though there was only five of us in the house.
“One guy has this raspy, deep, Tom Waits voice, and another guy has a very sweet pure voice, and they do these harmonies, so it’s really surreal music, and quite beautiful and different.”
The Steve Brockley Band caught Winnicky’s attention when they were in town to support Declan O’Donovan’s CD release show.
“I saw them at the Gold Rush and they just had that whole room silenced, even though they’re just three guys.”
And Mike Stevens is an old hand at the festival. He has come up at least twice before, said Winnicky.
“A lot of his work is with underprivileged youth now, and he brings his harmonicas to the festival and does workshops with youth, teaching them how to play harmonica,” she said. “And he’s also one of the best harmonica players in the world.”
Of course, when considering a festival lineup, the most important consideration is to find at least a few bands that will get people off their seats.
“It’s always about dancing,” said Winnicky.
Vancouver’s the Boom Booms will bring their brand of funky reggae dance music.
A former Atlin performer told Winnicky that the Boom Booms are the hottest band on the Vancouver scene right now, said Winnicky.
And Gordie MacKeeman and his Rhythm Boys promise to tear up the stage with their high-energy Celtic and old-time music.
Soir de Semaine and Brenda Berezan and the Free Radicals are some of the locals talents signed up to play.
Kevin Barr, Vanessa Marshak, Grant Simpson and Dave Haddock will serve as performing MCs, entertaining the crowd between sets.
This year’s festival may feature a larger lake-stage tent because that venue has been so popular in recent years, said Winnicky.
And there will be a better system for allowing people to catch shows at the Globe Theatre, she said.
That venue only seats 100, and typically has long lineups out the door, leaving many disappointed.
This year, free tickets to each of the Globe shows will be made available on Friday evening, so people can reserve spots at the shows they most want to see.
There will be some way of limiting the amount of tickets each person can claim, but details haven’t been worked out yet, said Winnicky.
Also, tickets to the festival itself will be capped at 1,800. Last year 1,796 passes were sold.
Only weekend passes will be available, and they cost $120 in advance or $130 if there are any left to be sold at the gate.
Youth 13-17 are half price, and children under 13 are free. Seniors over 80 are free as well.
Tickets are available online, or in Whitehorse at the Yukon Arts Centre, Arts Underground or Deans Strings, or in Atlin at the Trading Post, the Food Basket or festival headquarters.
Visit www.atlinfestival.ca for the full lineup and more details.
The festival will take place July 12-14 in Atlin, B.C.
Contact Jacqueline Ronson at