By Steve Hubrecht
Last summer, Lake Windermere was the venue of what was one of the best concerts of the year anywhere in Canada, when Canadian country music star, Brett Kissel, and entrepreneur and philanthropist, W. Brett Wilson, teamed up to co-host an outdoor boat concert.
The event occurred near the Baltac Road boat launch at sunset. As Kissel’s vocals and guitar strumming echoed out over the lake, about 3,500 to 4,000 people gathered on boats, canoes, standup paddle boards, kayaks and even a rubber dinghy — all appropriately socially distanced from each other — to take part in an event designed to raise spirits during the first plaguing moments of the COVID-19 pandemic. The goal was to bridge some of the gaps between seasonal and year-round residents that the pandemic had exacerbated at the time, and to raise money for the Columbia Valley Community Foundation’s community fund.
The event was a success on all three fronts, and music fans, as well as those who simply love the idea of an evening out on the lake, will be delighted to learn that another Brett Kissel boat concert is set for this coming Saturday, July 31.
“Our decision to host this family-friendly experience yet again for the residents of Windermere came easy to us from all of the positive feedback we received at last year’s event – the largest outdoor concert held in Canada in 2020. We were also pleased to have raised almost $100,000 for the Columbia Valley Foundation and excited to continue raising funds for a great cause,” says Wilson.
The event, news of which has been kept the tightest of secret until today (Thursday, July 29), was fun and certainly worthwhile, and so arranging a second edition of it simply made sense, Wilson told the Pioneer.
“Kissel is available, the outdoor space is available and when the wind dies down, the lake is a superb venue,” he says. “In terms of goodwill, as a fundraiser, and just in terms of having something positive in the middle of a pandemic, it was win-win all around last time, so why not do it again? I’m not aware of anybody else doing a boat concert, but if you have predictable summer weather, as the Columbia Valley does, and you have a location that sort of sticks out onto the lake, like we do, then it all comes together really well.”
Although the concert is free, everybody who attends is strongly encouraged to donate to the Columbia Valley Community Foundation’s community fund. The show will get underway at roughly 8 p.m. at the Baltac boat launch, and will run until 10 p.m. The concert will be broadcast live on 88.5 FM to ensure that any attendees who aren’t quite close enough to hear directly can still listen along. But concert goers will need a boat (or canoe, kayak or paddle board) as the show will not be viewable from anywhere onshore. The event is weather permitting, and the organizers ask those attending to respect B.C. boating laws, rules and regulations, not1ing that the RCMP will be assisting on the water.
“Once again this concert is Alberta’s gift to the valley with all costs being privately covered (by individuals from Alberta) to make this a free event. Our only ask is that everyone attending makes a donation,” said Wilson.
Kissel, who has won multiple Canada Country Music Association Awards and a couple of Junos as well, is excited to be back in Windermere to perform and co-host another boat concert.
The friendship between Kissel and Wilson stretches back to a Calgary concert years ago.
“I was helping out with that concert. When I saw Kissel perform I was smitten, and I thought here’s Canada’s answer to Garth Brook,” Wilson told the Pioneer.
To donate to the Columbia Valley Community Foundation’s community fund, visit www.ValleyFoundation.ca/boat-concert.