Popular Australian blues artist Ash Grunwald was among the performers during last year’s Song and Surf music festival.

Music for the heart and soul at the edge of the world

The "boutique-style" winter music festival in Port Renfrew returns this weekend.

What if there was a place – in the middle of winter – where you could congregate and cozy up next to someone to listen live to some fresh-off-the-notepad songs.

Yup. Song and Surf is back for its ninth year with a whole new roster of music artists.

The festival runs this weekend, from Feb. 5 to 8, starting at 11 a.m. on Friday.

Known as a “boutique-style” festival of music, dance and chillaxation, it is held every winter on the wild northwest coast of Port Renfrew.

Like previous years, it is held at the Big Fish Lodge, a bed and breakfast right by the beach overlooking the gap between the mountains and the Pacific Ocean.

Hot this year is Man Made Lake, a band of seven sharply dressed “chaps” all of whom combine their distinctive talents in music to create a melody that sings to your heart and soul.

Whether it’s the modern indie synths of keyboardist Brent Gosse, the heavy rock oomph of Morgan Hradecky, the classical and funkiness of pianist Nate Bailey, the “mercurial” sound of bassist Aaron Blair, or the soaring solos of guitarist Steve Parker, they all unite to warm up your day with some of the finest tunes on the West Coast.

After all, that was the whole point of Song and Surf when it first launched; not only to give people a warm place to be, but to enjoy some live and fresh music.

“Nothing was happening here in winter, no cultural event, no venue, nowhere for people to come and experience all the ocean storms, the hiking, everything you can do in winter not just in summertime,” said Rob Stewart, owner of Big Fish Lodge and co-creator of Song and Surf.

Stewart, a musician, says giving the opportunity for young artists to perform together and connect in such a unique place was just too hard to resist.

“We wanted to organize something where people can come out in a small group, get a boutique feel to live music, so we’re really humble it caught on,” he said, adding that he wanted people to experience something a little more exclusive than the usual summer festival he co-hosts, Tall Tree.

“You’re getting really high-quality artists in a very intimate venue,” he said. “There are beach fires, a wood-fire hot tub, so it’s action here all day and night.”

It’s easy to see why; mountainscape as far as the eye can see, long and wide stretch of beaches and campgrounds, as well as the soothing swirls and rolls of the Pacific ocean.

Mike Hann, Song and Surf’s co-creator, as drawn to Port Renfrew’s natural aura for this very reason. Hann, a native of Victoria, was travelling with his band, Quoia, when he met Stewart.

“When we started, that time Port Renfrew was making the transition from being a logging town to a sort of fishing and ecotourism destination,” Hann said.

“The event really helps introduce people to the area because it encourages them to go out and explore, go on little spirit quests.”

Unlike Tall Tree, which runs every summer, Song and Surf has a completely different vibe, more low-tune and relaxing, yet positive and warm; much like a hot cup of cocoa.

The lineup of musicians, which is split between a day and a night section of the event, offers a rich variety of genres, from indie rock, trance, alternative to jazz and the blues.

Other performances this weekend include Yukon Blonde, Jesse Roper, Fleetwood Smack, Lovecoast, Halal Beats, Fox Glove, Primitive, B-Mid, Think Tank and The Funkee Wadd.

For info on tickets, schedule and transportation, please visit the Song and Surf Music Festival 2016 Facebook page.

 

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