Bring on the Festival

Get ready to move your feet and clap your hands – it’s Roots and Blues week.

Get ready to move your feet and clap your hands – it’s Roots and Blues week.

Music is one of the few activities that involves using the whole brain and is intrinsic to all cultures. Scientists say music reduces high blood pressure, is good for your heart, boosts immunity, enhances intelligence, learning and IQ, improves physical performance and productivity, can help reduce both the sensation and distress of pain, reduces stress and aids relaxation, improves mood and decreases depression and, is just darn good for the soul.

So bring on the Roots and Blues Festival this weekend, where I and thousands of others will be doing ourselves, including our brains, a lot of good.

There is an amazingly high number of talented singers, songwriters and musicians in the Shuswap and many opportunities to hear them – a cultural richness that family and friends from larger centres are often surprised to discover. But once a year, Roots and Blues brings to our small community, a world of music both in artists and genres. While classical music was my introduction to the musical world, I have grown to love many other genres as well. I am certainly not a music aficionado, nor do I have a handle on the “music speak” those in the business use to communicate or describe what they do.

But I do know this; I have never come away from a Roots and Blues Festival without finding something that captures my heart and simply amazes me.

And I have learned that to get a CD of one of my newly-discovered musical heroes, I had better hustle over to the merchandise tent just  before, or during, the closing notes of a set – or miss out.

There are so many artists I am thrilled to be hearing this year, not just because of their fabulous music (I always go online to hear them), but the message they are sharing in their lyrics.

Canned Heat, one of the 1960’s biggest protest bands and earliest environmental advocates is on my must-see list. Social activists Naomi Wachira and Quique Escamilla use their fabulous sound to shine a light in the dark places and situations in the world. Once half of what was the most successful duo in rock history, John Oates has sold more that 82 million albums, recording five new ones since going solo in 1999. And Grammy-winning icon Marty Stuart has also sold millions of records with his traditional country music.

Has beens? Absolutely not!

I love what Canned Heat drummer “Fito” de la Parra contends –  that musicians, like fine wine, improve with age and are more interesting. So too are the many up-and-comers and those who are hitting their stride.

Do we get “big” pop artists like some of the other festivals? No, we don’t.

But we get three days of awesome roots and blues music for about half the price. Open your hearts and your musical minds and head for the fairgrounds on Friday. Tickets are available at www.rootsandblues.ca or visit the office at 490 Fifth Ave. SW.

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