A new festival that celebrates roots music and brings together the folk, fiddling and bluegrass communities here and around the Pacific Northwest is in the works for this spring in Sidney and North Saanich.
As part of a gradual schedule and awareness roll-out for the two-day event, organizers of the Victoria Folk ‘N Fiddle Festival have announced that U.S. bluegrass legends, violinist Darol Anger and mandolinist Mike Marshall, will headline the Friday, May 31 gala concert at the Mary Winspear Centre, along with popular Victoria acoustic music trio West My Friend.
Bob de Wolff, part of the group behind the hugely successful Calgary Folk Festival and a resident here for the past 10 years, is one of the driving forces behind Folk ‘N Fiddle. He’s a director with the Deep Cove Folk Society, which recently celebrated its 30th anniversary and is a co-sponsor of the festival along with the Victoria Folk Society, Victoria Bluegrass Society and Victoria Fiddle Society.
The weekend of May 31 and June 1 will echo with the sounds of various roots music events, from concerts in the Charlie White Theatre and Sidney Bandshell to a barn dance in the Bodine Hall, Indigenous music showcases, coffee shop jams; fiddle and folk instrumental and voice workshops for all ages, and more.
“We’re planning a really crammed schedule and we think that people will come for the whole weekend,” de Wolff says. “They’re not going to come up just for one concert, they’re going to get seduced by what’s going on and find they’re having the time of their lives.”
De Wolff has a very able partner helping him launch the festival: artistic director Nellie Quinn, president of the Victoria Fiddle Society and organizer of that group’s 2018 Fiddle Fest. She explains her motivation for undertaking the new venture stems largely from her musical background, which has seen her tour extensively with Celtic rock band The Town Pants, live and tour in the UK and more recently, teaching fiddle music in remote communities in the Northwest Territories.
“My goal is bringing all that back home,” says Quinn, who was raised on the Saanich Peninsula. “It’s about taking all these wonderful experiences I’ve had and bringing them back to the community through music, art, dances and storytelling.”
A series of roll-out events are being planned for the weeks and months leading up to the opening day.
While much effort has already happened behind the scenes to get the underpinnings of the festival in place, plenty of work lies ahead. A volunteer recruitment campaign has begun and additional sponsorship help is being sought from the business community and the public.
“We need key volunteers – people who are committed to making this festival a success – and we need funding,” notes de Wolff, adding the first year for any festival is always the toughest. “But we’re committed to doing this at the Winspear for three years.”
If you’d like to get involved with the festival, musically, as a volunteer or as a sponsor, contact Quinn at firstname.lastname@example.org or de Wolff at email@example.com. You can watch for updates through the weeks at folknfiddle.ca and follow them on Facebook.