Pirjo Raits | Contributed
Peter, Jill and Jerzy were standing on the deck of the old clubhouse overlooking John Phillips Memorial Park admiring the space. Someone said, “We should do something here.”
So they did.
Four years ago they held the first Sooke Music Festival on the fairways of the old golf course. They enjoyed it so much they just kept going.
Jerzy Peregudow and Jill Schultz were already running Speed Source Fitness and an upholstery business from the former restaurant and clubhouse so they joined with Peter Jonassen and got the bands, vendors and sponsors lined up for the now annual August event.
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This year’s festival takes place Aug. 3 to 4 and unlike other mid-summer festivals – it’s free.
“It has doubled in size every year,” said Jonassen. “People in Sooke were wanting something free, somewhere to go in mid-summer, something for families.”
Last year there were roughly 4,500 people who attended. With the demise of the bluegrass festival and other area festivals no longer happening, the Sooke Music Festival is gearing up for larger attendance numbers than ever before.
A new stage has been built and performances will alternate between the two so there will be no lag time in between bands.
Local food vendors will entice diners with everything from vegetarian choices to full on meat.
Merchandize vendors and non-profits will be on hand and there will be a big beer tent featuring the products of three local breweries and a distillery.
Kids will have their own area with a bouncy inflatables. The inflatables started when the festival donated profits to Hannah Day during her fight with cancer.
That’s the basic layout of the venue, but the music is what people will be coming for. Rock, folk and country presented by such bands as Deep Sea Gypsies, Edgedwellers, Murder of Crows, Elli Hart, House of Swell and many other local and regional bands and performers.
Canadian singer Elli Hart was inspired by the red rocks of Sedona and her sophomore album due for a release this fall will be coloured in tones of painted sunsets on cold, desert nights, setting the landscape for pulsing beats, gritty lyrics, and fuzzy guitars dipped in honey and reverb.
Independent band SHALE brings a deep one-of-a-kind sound without the darkness, bold but not boasting and organic without the granola. Their creative force comes from backgrounds in classical music, dance, choral performance and sound engineering.
Born in a modern era with vintage dreams, the Deep Sea Gypsies offer a sound that is all their own. Playing an original, innovative combination of 1960s’ psych blues rock and 1970s’ southern rock mixed with elements of funk and soul. With influences such as Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Rory Gallagher, Muddy Waters, and Lynyrd Skynyrd, some might say they have souls much older than their age would suggest. That is just a wee sampling of the lineup.
The festival has been made possible by an incredible amount of community support and funding from the District of Sooke, the Capital Regional District, B.C. Arts Council, Sooke Community Arts Council and local businesses.
Festival organizers are desperately seeking volunteers to help make the whole event happen smoothly. If you want to help out go to: www.sookemusicfestical.com.
“It takes blood and love from everybody to make it happen,” said Jonassen. “It’s all about Sooke supporting locals.”