Although the festival will be streamed online instead of performed live due to the COVID-19 virus, Roots & Blues favourite Irish Mythen will be back this year. (Jim Elliot/Salmon Arm Observer)

Roots & Blues festival trades Salmon Arm stage for screens province-wide

Although COVID-19 has halted a live festival, it can be watched digitally on Black Press Media sites

It is as much a part of summer in Salmon Arm as sunshine, but the Roots & Blues festival will not be lighting up the Salmon Arm fairgrounds due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, while large in-person gatherings are not allowed, organizers are not giving up on the 2020 festival.

If festival-goers can’t go to Roots & Blues, Roots & Blues is coming to them — an online festival featuring high-quality video of artists booked for this year and favourites from previous years will be broadcast Aug. 14-16 from 7 to 9 p.m. each night.

Those hoping to watch the digital festival can catch it on the Salmon Arm Observer’s website, or on the sites of other Black Press Media publications.

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Peter North, the festival’s artistic director, said a lot of work has gone into keeping the Roots & Blues vibe intact despite swapping stages for screens.

“I’m really impressed with how gracious the artists, managers and agents have been,” North said.

“Everyone went the extra mile to make it happen.”

North described the professional multi-camera recordings of the artists which will be streamed on the festival nights as the next best thing to seeing the performances in person. Along with the newly-recorded video, North said footage of main stage performances from festival favourites like Jim Cuddy and Michael Franti will also be shown.

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North said many of the streamed performances carry a similar feel to the workshop performances at the in-person festival which often carry a central theme but give different artists the freedom to jam and create together.

While Alberta country singer Corb Lund won’t be getting his time on the Roots & Blues main stage this year, North said a multi-artist tribute to Canadian country music legend Ian Tyson, which Lund will play in, is bound to be a highlight.

He said a set by Grammy-nominated harmonica player Mark Hummel will be a great showcase of pre Second World War acoustic blues tunes and viewers will also be able to tune in for shows from the BC World Music collective and folk musicians the Paperboys.

Irish Mythen, who has been a favourite at the festival in recent years, recorded a few songs from her home on Prince Edward Island which will also be streamed for the festival.

While North said he is looking forward to the online festival, everyone else who works to bring Roots & Blues to life is eager to see it back at the Salmon Arm fairgrounds next year.



jim.elliot@saobserver.net

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