LOCAL PERFORMANCES Valley bands L8 (top) and Small Town Dirtbags (bottom) are part of the lineup of the first-ever High Notes Music Festival at Panorama in March.File photo above/Photo submitted below

By James Rose

Special to The Pioneer

Panorama Mountain Resorts High Notes Music Festival is coming up on March 17th to 19th, and this is the second of four weekly articles shining a spotlight on the artists that festival goers can look forward to seeing.

Elk Run & Riot, L8, and Small Town Dirtbags are three bands that pack a punch when it comes to putting on a great show. Each band has a distinctive style resonating with their audience in sonically satisfying ways each time they grace the stage. The Dirtbags and L8 call the Columbia Valley home, while folk-rockers Elk Run & Riot are based in the Bow Valley communities of Banff and Canmore.

Were a high energy live show, quite spontaneous, and not trying to sound like anyone, said Elk Run & Riots Andrew Cotter (guitar, vocals). Our performances are loose, but tight at the same time. We like messing around with lyrics to feature some local shout-outs and love reacting to the crowd.

There is a symbiotic relationship between their musicians and the people they play to. The best performers know that it isnt enough to simply display technical aptitude on their instruments. Invoking an emotional response within those listening is where the real value of live music lies.

The foundation of songs for the Bow Valley band begins with creative lyrics that tell true stories of mountain life and the culture of the area they call home. From there, they deliver intricate harmonies, a tight progressive rhythm section and an electric mix of leads that cover multiple genres of music.

Be it bluegrass, folk, country, rock, you name it, you will hear components of each in our sound, said Mr. Cotter.

L8s current lineup consists of a group of musicians that have played live music in the Columbia Valley for many years (dating, for some members, all the way back to the Panorama A-Frame days). The band focuses on putting on an exciting show of original folk-rock music with the occasional cover; all the while featuring a unique arrangement of instruments.

Having the legendary Franz Grasegger on accordion, who has written and recorded songs for the Pope, is invaluable, said Mr. Hess. When we tour Europe, I am always floored at how famous Franz is over there.

For L8s band members, live music and aprs ski go hand in hand. We are really looking forward to showcasing our music to a clientele that may not have heard our music before, said L8s frontman Pat Hess.

For live music, Panorama is special unlike some of the other Kootenay ski areas in that there is a central place for live entertainment after a day of skiing, added Mr. Hess. In the past, L8 played the Great Hall deck during spring skiing, and so we are excited to be back doing a similar type show for this festival.

Elk Run & Riot echo similar sentiments.

Were currently on the ski hill circuit and really honoured that Panorama asked for us to play, said Mr. Cotter. It truly is the type of gig that fits our bands sound and style and so we all would like to extend a big thank you in advance to everyone on the hill.

As for Small Town Dirtbags, since they already see themselves (and rightfully so) as a ski town throwdown live music extravaganza, naturally they are keen to play High Notes and excited to showcase their music to a larger crowd of festival goers.

The three-piece band consisting of Oso Simple, Fraser Smith, and Patrick Carrick have been busy for the last few years playing shows and honing their sound throughout the Columbia Valley and Southern Alberta.

To anyone who has seen the trio play, it is no secret that they possess that rare ability to bring out the best of their audience through a mix of delightful covers and original compositions. Singing along, dancing, and requesting encore after encore: a typical Dirtbag experience and one sure to be elevated to the next level for High Notes.

To find out more about each of the three bands, you can find plenty of information on Facebook, Bandcamp, or YouTube. For more information on High Notes and when each band is playing, visit www.panoramaresort.com/High-Notes/.