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ROOTSandBLUES: Week of free concerts announced for downtown Salmon Arm

Tuned Up Series concludes Thursday evening with Shred Kelly
ROOTSandBLUES artistic director Kevin Tobin has lined up a week of free live music for downtown Salmon Arm leading up to this year’s festival. (Lachlan Labere - Salmon Arm Observer)

By Barb Brouwer


It’s almost here!

Hot music will add sizzle to summer in the Shuswap as the 30th Anniversary ROOTSandBLUES Festival gets underway in just three weeks.

Headliners include Tom Cochrane, Jann Arden, Antibalas, Ruthie Foster, Snotty Nose Rez Kids and Five Alarm Funk.

From deep Delta blues to the Red Hot Louisiana Band’s Bayou beats, Oral Fuentes Reggae Band’s unique blend of reggae with Afro/Latin fusion, to the up-tempo sounds of the Shuswap’s own Salmon Armenians, the eclectic music will induce toe tapping and dancing at the first live ROOTSandBLUES in two years.

“Final details are coming together,” said artistic director Kevin Tobin. “There’s a pent-up energy in the office to be doing what we’re doing as we welcome people back.”

Tobin, who was the artistic director of the internationally recognized Saskatchewan Jazz Festival from 2005 to 2021, is looking forward to going live on the Salmon Arm Fairgrounds on Aug. 19.

He is also excited and enthusiastic to be introducing the new Tuned Up Series in the week leading up to the festival.

Free entertainment will be provided at the Ross Street Plaza at 11:45 a.m. every weekday except Wednesday.

• Aug. 15: Buffalo, NY born Willie Nile has been called “one of the most gifted singer-songwriters to emerge from the New York scene in years” and Uncut Magazine called him “A one-man Clash.” Nile has toured the U.S. with The Who and has sung with Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band. As the induction program from the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame says: “His live performances are legendary.”

• Aug. 16: The Salmon Armenians have been rocking the house since their 1996 Roots and Blues Festival Debut. Voted Okanagan Music Awards Best Blues band for 2007, the band has racked up an impressive musical resume that includes 24 sellout shows with the Vernon Jazz Society and six appearances at the Salmon Arm Roots and Blues Festival.

• Aug. 18: Based in the B.C.Interior, Mozi Bones is an emerging trio pushing the boundaries of modern music, blending genres that range from Afrobeat to jazz, and psychedelic rock to Latin.

• Aug. 19: Oral Fuentes Reggae Band brings a mixture of reggae with Afro/Latin Fusion. Band members hail from Belize, St. Lucia, Ghana, Nigeria, Philippines, Fiji, Seattle U.S. and Canada.

• Aug 20: The time shifts to 10:30 a.m. with Meg n’ Mike. Shortly after graduating from Selkirk College in 2020, Shuswap vocalist and writer Megan Abel connected with Michael Vaughan, a Yukon and B.C.-based artist and guitarist. Meg n’Mike create unique acoustic-indie music that is rhythmically intricate, with thought-provoking themes and mesmerizing melodies.

Another popular and free tradition will play out on Aug. 17 when Wednesday on the Wharf welcomes Roots and Blues artists onto the Marine Peace Park stage.

Read more: Free concert in Salmon Arm’s downtown planned for ROOTSandBLUES kick-off

Read more: ROOTSandBLUES Festival in Salmon Arm requests more campsites due to big demand

At 6:45 p.m., singer-songwriter Nick La Riviere and his band, Best Laid Plans, will energize the park with their piano-centric pop and funk grooves, flavoured with New Orleans style horns and an energy injection of wild trombone solos. The band’s original music is influenced by artists like Trombone Shorty, Galactic, The Preservation Hall Band, and Allen Toussaint.

And there’s more!

Alexander Street to Lakeshore will be closed to traffic and Best Laid Plans will be back downtown at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 18, to launch a free Kick-off Concert for Shred Kelly.

A five-piece, alternative folk rock band, Shred Kelly’s striking and energy-packed sound is a progressive pairing of acoustic instrumentation with electric counterparts, harmonies and driving rhythms.

Tobin calls the kick-off concert another great way to celebrate the festival’s 30th anniversary and introduce the community to a taste of ROOTSandBLUES. Restaurant patios will be open and the family-friendly event will include face-painting for the younger set.

“We’re aiming at helping to make the downtown area a vibrant place to work and play,” he said, noting the Tuned Up Series could provide a foundation for future programming, including the return of the crawl, and gives organizers an opportunity to expand community engagement. “We’re not profit driven, we want to be a good business partner as well as being part of the arts and culture community here in Salmon Arm.”

Tobin said the intention is to make sure local businesses benefit from the festival.

He said organizers are grateful to the support provided by all levels of government and, as stewards of the festival, want to make sure programming is reflective of diversity and meets the needs of the community.

For more information, or to buy tickets which increase in price on Aug. 1, visit
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