Why did you decide to organize a music festival?
I believe in music as the universal language. It brings people together for mutual enjoyment. At a time when everything is so fragmented and conflicted, music is a force that unites the world.
Many of the musicians on the lineup for Steamboat Mountain Music Festival are also regular performers at Music on Main (the summer concert series sponsored by the Village of Radium). Is there a connection?
I have helped with Music on Main every summer since it got started. When we were first thinking about hosting the Steamboat Mountain Music Festival in Edgewater, we already had a strong network of local and regional musicians to draw on. The festival mandate is to begin with a base of at least 60 percent Columbia Valley music. We have a talent pool here locally and regionally that demands and deserves to be heard. As singer-songwriter Mickey Maione observed, “Shake a tree in Edgewater, and a musician falls out.” And that’s true here in the whole Columbia Valley. There is a huge range of musical talent and some of the best players you’ll find anywhere.
One of the stated goals for the Steamboat Mountain Music Festival is to establish a fund to provide scholarships and bursaries for musicians of any age. Why is this important to you?
Through our festival, and by setting up this fund, we want to make more targeted resources available for the professional development of musicians. We want to improve access not just for music camps, but for lessons with local professional teachers, workshops, and other music programs. It is a mistake to think that this is just something that will help young performers. Musicians of any age can benefit from such opportunities. No matter what age you are, you can learn and grow musically when you are at that readiness stage and you take that opportunity. In taking a course or attending a camp, an individual can learn new playing and composing techniques, music theory, new riffs and harmonies, and observe the styles and stagecraft of the best in the field. Meeting other musicians can be an education in itself.
One of the features of the Steamboat Mountain Music festival is a tribute to Gord Askey. He was mostly known for his mandolin music, wasn’t he?
He certainly did play mandolin, but he performed with great style and wit. He taught me a lot about that interplay, that special communication among the musicians and between them and the audience — the shared appreciation that makes music so much fun. I first met Gord at a music camp quite a few years ago and since then I’ve discovered that his influence on musicians around this region has been enormous. He’s already greatly missed.
Are there other musicians who have influenced the local music community?
I could name off quite a few but I wouldn’t want to miss anybody. Here in the Columbia Valley, I’ve had the privilege of playing with and listening to some of the best musicians I’ve ever encountered in my life. I consider it a further privilege to be part of this musical family. I’ve lived and played in lots of places — this is the best. Music is one of the main reasons I stay here.
Your group, the Dry Gulch Ramblers, has been playing together for about eight or nine years. What keeps you going?
I think it’s our strong musical understanding of each other. One time, we didn’t get together for a stretch of about seven months. When we played again, it was as though we were never apart — we picked up and continued to grow. I have tremendous respect for the musicianship of the individuals in the band. I think we balance each other in what we bring. We hope to try out a few of our originals for the festival in July. We’re looking forward to a very exciting festival on July 7…
… We’re adding some informal jams on Saturday night after hours, and a couple of music workshops with historical themes to tie in with the 100th anniversary of Edgewater on Sunday (July 8) morning. As we finalize details, we’ll add news on the website, so check in at www.steamboatmtnmusicfest.ca.
—Submitted by Anne Jardine