Good music, and good times are full steam ahead this weekend as the Steamboat Mountain Music Festival celebrates their 11th Annual Festival from July 7 to 9. Early Bird ticket sales have been steady and are $25 for adults and $55 for families. Tickets can be purchased at a myriad of locations including Circle Café, Arrowhead Brewery, and Inspire Flowers & Gifts in Invermere, Family Pantry in Windermere, the Purple Cow Gift Shop in Fairmont, and the Post Office in Edgewater to name a few, and are also available at www.steamboatmtnmusicfest.ca.
“All proceeds will go towards producing next year’s festival, while all the proceeds from our silent auction, raffles, draws, and duck race will go to our Carol Wilkie Steamboat Mountain Music Bursary Fund,” says one of the festival’s organizers Anne Jardine.
Like so many other events the Steamboat Mountain Music Festival, had to adapt these past two years. In 2020 their ninth Steamboat Festival was held online. “Covid sent the Steamboat off into a couple of different side channels these past two years. We wanted to keep the festival strong, so we had to try different ways to do that,” says Jardine. A studio was set up in the old Radium Church and a dozen short videos the booked artists were recorded and streamed on their website over what would have been their usual festival weekend and were available through a YouTube link. Last year’s tenth festival it was arranged to have the Home Hardware Stage Truck drive around Edgewater to various locations and play to small audiences at each stop.
“Our major effort of our 2021 Tenth Anniversary year was Shake a Tree, our compilation CD album of all-original, all-local music that featured 26 tracks and 50 musicians in all,” says Jardine. “We held a contest for cover art, and the winners were Cimone Zimmer and Bill Ark. Their work is on the cover. The first pressing of the album has sold out, and we’ve ordered a second run so we could have them for sale at this year’s festival.”
This weekend Edgewater gets edgier. This year’s festival kicks off on Friday evening with five sequential porch parties around town. “This feature of the festival is evolving, in the spirit of neighbourliness. We set these up in 2016 initially so people of Edgewater could relax and enjoy the festivities in a more intimate setting, but everyone is welcome with no admission charge,” says Jardine. “We don’t want hosts to be overwhelmed; we hope everyone will respect their hospitality, locations and other details will be posted on the Steamboat website.”
On Saturday the festival really gets under way with an impressive list of performers as The Columbia River Dancers from Shuswap Band opens the festival at noon. The Steamboat Festival takes place on the traditional territory that runs along the Columbia River of the Secwepemc (Shuswap) and Ktunaxa (Akisqnuk) First Nations. “We believe it’s important to learn from that heritage. Learning and sharing their cultural traditions, these young dancers bring a touch of their ceremonial art – combining music, movement, story, community, and prayer – breathing from the heartbeat of this beautiful land,” says Jardine.
Saturday night live music at last, after two years of adapting. The focus of this festival has always been to celebrate local and regional music. One, in a long list of talented bands and performers is Hong Kong born Tennyson King who grew up in Mississauga, Ontario after moving to Canada at the age of four.
“We had heard good things about Tennyson King from friends in Toronto, Vancouver, and the West Kootenays who described him as a very charismatic performer,” says Jardine. “Our artistic director John MacRobbie contacted his agent, and we were lucky to have our festival included on his current tour.”
King has been on the move with tours throughout Canada. “I heard about the Steamboat Music Festival a few years ago when I was touring around British Columbia. It looked like such great vibes. My team and I reached out to the coordinator and had arranged a performance for 2019 but due to COVID, it didn’t happen. So, I’m grateful we made it work this year,” King told The Pioneer. “I’m very honoured to be invited to perform for this community. I love the Columbia Valley area. I’ve driven through the area many times, either playing at Invermere or snowboarding at Panorama. But I really dig performing in smaller communities because I love meeting people from close communities and connecting with them. It allows me to really make strong connections with everyone through music.”
Since King released his debut album back in January, he has also recently enjoyed some international travel with tours in his former home Hong Kong and Australia. “It’s all been very exciting! It’s been amazing hearing everyone’s feedback about the new album and sharing new songs with everyone, shares King. “We worked really hard on the new record and I’m happy people are enjoying it. Tour is exciting too, getting to perform all the songs from the new album and put on a killer show is what I love doing.”
Something else King will be doing is performing as a duo with his keyboardist Chris Noble and hosting a Sound Meditation workshop on Sunday, where he’s asking participants to dress comfortably and bring a blanket or yoga mat. Other workshops on Sunday will include a song writing workshop hosted by Tiller Folly and one hosted by The Wardens where they will illustrate the link between songwriting and traditional storytelling.
After this year’s festival things are not slowing down for King as he has a full tour schedule until the end of September, playing in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, then making his way back home to Ontario. Another tour in Australia is also on King’s itinerary in the year ahead. Before he heads down under, get down to King and all the other great bands and performers when the edge is being put back into Edgewater for the first time in two years.
“We’re delighted and excited to be gathering in-person again. Through its ten-year history, the purpose of our festival has always been to showcase and celebrate our local and regional music community,” says Jardine. “Who we are is expressed in the art we make. We hope the festival participants will be reminded of the amazing creativity of this inspiring place.”