The Coldsnap music festival just finished up in Prince George. I’m a big fan of the festival (and, disclosure, a board member). It’s brought in all-sorts of high-calibre acts that normally wouldn’t tour the city, including Joel Plaskett, Shad, the Great Lake Swimmers, and Dan Managan. This year was no different, with an awesome show by Hey Ocean and an appearance by Whitehorse– among many others.
But one of the highlights for me is the local musicians who get to play. There’s always been a local music component to the festival, but this year the locals were promoted a bit more heavily than in previous years– and with good reason. The locals are just as good as any out-of-town act (and that’s not a knock to the out-of-town acts, it doesn’t matter who came in from outside, the locals would have matched them).
On night one of the locals shows, I caught two young musicians, Darby Yule and Isaac Smeele for the first time– and bought cds from each after fantastic sets. I’ve been a fan of Jamie Bell for a long time, and was happy to hear him please the crowd once again. Then a group of UNBC students playing a mix of bebop and ska under the monikor The Bricks took the stage and, I believe, got more encores than anyone else at the festival. Night two was one of my favourite live experiences, Doug Koyama looping his vocals over himself. Then a few more newbise for me– Mother Tareka, a hip-hop artist who self-accompanies using saxophone, flute, and beatboxing, Avid, a new mordern-rock act, and Dead Street, consisting of various veterans of the PG music scene experimenting with psychedelic and grunge.
And that’s not all– Quesnel’s band reeves opened up for Whitehorse at the PG Playhouse, and as good as Whitehorse was (they are a huge act on the indie scene), I’ve had multiple people tell me reeves sort of upstaged them. Even Whitehorse gave them a shout-out. And there were workshops throughout town that let other burgeoning talents develop and test out their skills.
I’m making the same point I’ve made before– there is an awesome amount of talent in this city. It’s great that Coldsnap can be used to highlight the fun and importance of live music, but these talents should be supported year-round. Fortunately there’s no shortage of opportunities. I feel bad for not posting this yesterday before Jamie Bell opened for Lauren Mann and the Fairly Odd Folk, but yeah, that happened. Incidentally, Lauren Mann is the group that took reeves on a national tour this past summer. And tomorrow Canadian Waste (possibly the most buzzed-about live act at the moment) are playing a benefit show for a downtown building that’s supported the arts scene. On any given weekend, there are shows at Nancy-O’s, Books and Company, and various other venues around town.
There should never be anyone complaining about a lack of places to go in town. My biggest problem is not having the energy to go to everything I’d like to on any given weekend. And that’s the way it should be.