The Slocan Ramblers are among the headliners at the inaugural Cowichan Valley Bluegrass Festival, which has moved to the Laketown Ranch after 16 successful years as the Sooke Bluegrass Festival. Photo by Jen Squires

Expanded bluegrass festival pitches its tent at Laketown Ranch

Former Sooke Bluegrass Festival outgrew previous venue after 16 successful years, organizer says

In the world of bluegrass they are household names – Claire Lynch, The Slocan Ramblers, the Lonely Heartstring Band.

But to those not familiar with niche subculture of bluegrass and Appalachian old-time music?

“I call the best music you’ve never heard,” says Bob Remington, co-artistic director of the Cowichan Valley Bluegrass Festival, happening June 14-16 at Laketown Ranch Music Park near Lake Cowichan.

The festival, which moves to Laketown after 16 successful years in Sooke, features some of the best acoustic musicians in North America including Lynch, a three-time Grammy nominee who, according to Dolly Parton, has “one of the sweetest, purest and best lead voices in the music business today.”

Programming a festival made up entirely of music that doesn’t get played on the radio might seem like a challenge, but so dedicated are its fans that the festival decided to move to Laketown after selling out campsites at Sooke months in advance.

Laketown offers acres of camping, which Remington says is integral to the bluegrass experience.

“Bluegrass and old-time festivals are unique. Fans camp out all weekend and take part in organized and impromptu jam sessions. With three chords and a guitar, you can make a lot of friends.”

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The festival features an Appalachian old-time square dance under a big top circus tent Saturday night as well top local and regional bands like The Sweet Lowdown and Nomad Jones, and free workshops with headliners.

For tickets and information visit cowichanbluegrass.com.



editor@mondaymag.com

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