Artistic director Peter North is excited by both the artist lineup and the changes that have been made for this year’s Roots and Blues Festival.

Roots and Blues fever building

Organizers are putting their all into presenting the 23rd annual Roots and Blues Festival Aug. 14 to 16 at the Salmon Arm Fairgrounds.

Peter North is feeling good.

Artistic director for the Roots and Blues Festival, North says that while activity is intense, organizers are cheerful and upbeat.

“The last three weeks feels like we turned it around; the team feels so different after last year’s trauma,” he says. “Sales are on the mark, we’re headed where we are supposed to be and the artists have been so available. Sometimes they can be prima donnas, but not this year.”

With no record stores left in major markets let alone Salmon Arm, North is excited about the expanded merchandise tent that will be located in the same spot but will be much bigger and more inviting.

“We’re bringing back Jerry Keough, who owns Heritage Posters and Records in Calgary and takes care of the merch for major festivals,” he says, noting Keough will also create a Grateful Dead display to match the festival theme. “Not all artists can bring stock, so he’s making sure we have a really well-rounded list.”

Keough will also bring a lot of roots music from artists who have played at Roots and Blues in the past as well as albums by other popular roots artists.

Festivalgoers will also be able to meet legendary West Coast music promoter and entrepreneur Jerry Kruz who will be signing and selling his book, The Afterthought: West Coast Rock Posters and Recollections from the ‘60s.

Using the historical posters as a timeline, Kruz’s recollections are a celebration of the resiliency of Woodstock-era arts and culture.

“It got great reviews so he’s been going to festivals, readings and signings,” says North. “I saw him at a Vancouver Island festival and he sold a ton of books there.”

Stoked about the lineup, North recently saw four of this year’s festival entries at a festival in Canmore, Alta.

“Hanggai got two standing ovations; they tore the place up, they’re something else,” he says of the traditional Mongolian band, whose undeniably gorgeous music has been winning many fans. “I saw Oysterband (award-winning U.K. folk-roots) on the main stage and they were very impressive.”

North was also impressed with how The Small Glories and Kat Danser resonated with the crowds at the workshops stages.

“It’s nice to see them getting the kind of response you hope they’re gonna get here,” he says. “I was at the Calgary Blues Festival the same weekend and Geoff Muldaur and Amos Garrett sounded as good as they did 35 years ago.”

North reminds festivalgoers of the free pancake brunch hosted by Downtown Salmon Arm and Salmon Arm Folk Music Society from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Aug. 15 at the Ross Street Plaza.

Daybreak Rotary members will be flipping pancakes and serving them with sausages, fruit juice and coffee.

Diners will first be entertained by Prairie balladeer Scott Cook, which will be followed by a blues jam.

And speaking of food, a new addition to the food court is the Mardi Gras Grill Truck, which won the Best Food Truck at this year’s Calgary Stampede.


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