Organizers bring the best to the fest

Concern turned to congratulations as the Salmon Arm Folk Music Society reported an amazing turnaround year

Booker T of Booker T and the MGs fame is just one of the performers already signed on to perform at this year’s Roots and Blues Festival

Concern turned to congratulations as the Salmon Arm Folk Music Society reported an amazing turnaround year for the Roots and Blues Festival.

In his report at the society’s Jan. 17 AGM, artistic director Peter North credited the success to three major factors – positive reaction to the 2015 festival lineup, the welcoming vibe and promotion and publicity.

“It was made clear to us from patrons of the 2015 festival that the vast majority were very pleased with the programming, from the workshops to the balance in genres under the roots umbrella, to our main stage artists,” he said. “In turn, those patrons spread the word about how the festival met high artistic standards and was a whole lot of fun.”

In terms of the “welcoming vibe,” North gave credit to festival director David Gonella, Roxy Roth and board director Elaine Holmes for new activities and entertainment. As well, he added, promotion and publicity were taken up a notch, providing a bigger and more consistent reach.

North reflected on the 2016 festival and the high-calibre lineup he was able to create, despite a less-than-favourable Canadian dollar.

The success of last year’s Thursday-night kickoff party will be repeated with two “really strong” acts already lined up.

“What I noticed immediately following the 2016 festival was how the number of submissions from artists across the continent exploded, probably tripling since my time here began,” said North. “That doesn’t mean they are all exceptional artists, but it does mean that Roots and Blues is on a lot of agents’, managers’ and artists’ radars.”

North listed some of the artists lined up for the 2017 festival – Booker T Jones of Booker T and the MGs, bluesman John Primer, Livingston Taylor, Rev. Robert B. Jones. Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne, Claire Lynch and the Lil’ Smokies.

There are many more confirmed performers and North says a “great number” of acts will be announced over the next few months, including artists from across the country to celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary

North, a music promoter for the past 40 years, says he feels very positive about the future of the festival, in no small part, thanks to the cohesion that has grown between himself, Gonella and administrator Cindy Diotte.

“I can’t say enough about the volunteers and seasonal staff,” he added. “We have turned a major corner at Roots and Blues and thanks to our board for our new home and the hard work that went into delivering that project.”

Equally confident in the future of the festival. Gonella also credited the co-operation between staff, the board and volunteers and sponsors.

He noted the tremendous work by many and the commitment of the community required to stage the festival every year.

Gonella applauded support from the Shuswap Construction Industry Professionals, the City of Salmon Arm and the society for making the SCIP House a reality and the board for helping to make the 2016 festival a financial success.

“Both of these achievements would have been unthinkable just two short years ago,” he said.

“In the fall of 2015, I wouldn’t have been the only person to have wondered if the Roots and Blues was going to make it to our 25th festival, but after the past event, I am confident we will make it to our 50th.”


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