In just over an hour, I get to MC opening night of the fifth annual Coldsnap Music Festival. I remember going to the first festival in 2008, back when I was still in university. It was a super-cold winter, with people’s cars not starting and the river freezing and causing ice jams that had people worried about floods.
I remember people braving this to go to these tiny downtown venues to see artists like Said the Whale and Dan Mangan that are famous now but no one had heard of then and just being blown away. And I remember being outside one of these venues and seeing everyone in there listening to this music and it looked like they were huddled up in a log cabin against the darkness of these downtown that no one’s supposed to want to go in, especially not at night on a weekday in minus 20. And I remember thinking that something like Coldsnap could really change the character of the city.
For the last five years, Coldsnap has been the time when music fans in other cities are jealous of Prince George because we get double-bills like Hannah Georgas opening for Joel Plaskett or Basia Bulat sharing the stage with Shad. And it’s also a time when a couple of kids from Quesnel can open up for a nationally-known group like Whitehorse and blow everyone away, including Whitehorse.
In fact, this year some of the acts I’m most looking forward to aren’t from out of town, but right here at home. I’ve never seen Derek Joyce play solo, but his recordings sound awesome. Keith Cummings has come out of nowhere for me. The Salt Water Brothers are former Tsimshian metal guys taking on traditional country. I finally get to see Vanderhoof’s Rosewood’s Diary and Terrace’s King Crow and the Ladies From Hell.
If you are in or near Prince George, I strongly encourage you to take a look at the lineup and come out to at least one show or workshop, especially if you aren’t a person who normally sees live music. Coldsnap is a great introduction to the talent this city has to offer, and a gateway to entertainment year-round.
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