Sun sets on Sunstroke Music Fest

The final chord has been strummed, the last high note hit, and the final bow taken. After 10 years, over $90,000 raised and thousands of spectators wowed, the curtain has fallen on the Sunstroke Music Festival.

The final chord has been strummed, the last high note hit, and the final bow taken.

After 10 years, over $90,000 raised and thousands of spectators wowed, the curtain has fallen on the Sunstroke Music Festival.

It’s time to move on to other fundraising initiatives, said organizer Jordi Mikeli-Jones.

“In my career as an event promoter, a philanthropist, and trying to do creative fundraisers, I just want to look at doing different events,” said Mikeli-Jones. “I’d like to bring up bigger names and maybe just have one or two opening acts and just have a one-evening, six-hour event.”

About 500 people attended the final Sunstroke – this year a one-night event – at the Kwanlin Dun Cultural Centre on Saturday evening.

With $6,000 raised, the festival has surpassed the $90,000 mark to cap a decade of great music and good times.

Sunstroke has benefitted both music lovers and Yukon animals in need. Proceeds from Sunstroke have gone to Humane Society Yukon, Humane Society Dawson and Kona’s Coalition, founded by Mikeli-Jones, which aims to “improving animal welfare in the Yukon through education, advocacy, financial assistance, fostering and support.”

The decision to make Saturday’s Sunstroke the last one began a year ago. Last year’s festival, which was held outdoors at Shipyards Park in Whitehorse, suffered poor attendance when rain came down in buckets most of the weekend. Holding a two-day festival like Sunstroke requires an investment of $60,000 to $70,000, and Mikeli-Jones ended up losing money last year, she said.

“I feel it’s important to go out while you’re on top,” said Mikeli-Jones. “The event last year was very difficult on me. I personally lost $10,000. The weather was a real detriment to the success of the event.

“Ultimately, it’s myself, my friends and my family putting this event on. We don’t have boards and committees – stuff other festivals in the Yukon have.”

Ten bands rocked the house on Saturday, including eight based in Yukon.

Vancouver’s Whiskeydicks, who have played all 10 Sunstroke fests, closed out the show with their Celtic-Gypsy tunes.

“It’s appropriate they played the last set at the final Sunstroke,” said Mikeli-Jones. “Half of them are from here. They have told me time and time again Sunstroke is their favourite event.”

The festival also saw the return of the mysterious Bob Log III, a one-man band who performs wearing a motorcycle helmet wired to a telephone receiver that operates as his microphone. Log brought the show to fever pitch with his thumping, heavy slide-guitar blues. He then crowd-surfed while sitting in an inner tube during his finale.

“After that first year I was ready to come anytime,” said Log, who played the 2013 Sunstroke. “I’ve been thinking about here ever since then – I really have.

“Somebody said, ‘There’s this festival. Do you want to come make a party bigger than it already is?’ And that’s my job, so I said, ‘Yeah, I’ll come to – where is it? OK.’ I came here and couldn’t stop thinking about it.

“I arranged my whole tour of the States and Canada so I could be here for this. That’s the truth, man … Don’t tell Minneapolis.”

Other acts to take the stage were Yukon’s Ryan McNally and his Red Hot Ramblers, Meat the Vegans, MC Turmoil with Riddz, the Midnight Sons and more.

“That’s one thing that sets us apart: we have a strong local representation,” said Mikeli-Jones. “We don’t want it to be difficult for local acts to get into the festival.”

Just because Sunstroke has reached the end of the line, fundraising for Kona’s Coalition hasn’t, said Mikeli-Jones.

There are plans for a fashion show, another Halloween party, a gala dinner and a golf tournament – the inaugural Kona’s Summer Classic on Aug. 1.

Besides, Mikeli-Jones wouldn’t mind being on the other side of things at a Yukon music festival, soaking in the tunes and sunshine instead of stamping tickets and serving beers.

“I find I’m really deterred from attending other music festivals in the Yukon because I’m so burnt out by the beginning of summer,” said Mikeli-Jones. “Having a toddler, I want to take her to Atlin and Dawson, and go as a parent now.”

Contact Tom Patrick at

tomp@yukon-news.com

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