At one of the first shows in 1984 or 1985, the Smithers audience was so small that everyone simply moved onto the covered stage and sat cross-legged around the band when a rainstorm hit, recalls organizer George Stokes.
Audience members can often be found sharing food in the hospitality tent with such musical greats as American bluesman Taj Mahal, Canadian folk guitarist James Keelaghan, or the Be Good Tanyas bluegrass trio, or joining the pros for nighttime jam sessions around the campfire. Some artists, including Toronto fiddle star Oliver Schroer and Whitehorse-based singer Kim Barlow, find their experience in Smithers so invigorating that they come back year after year.
The mountain community has even produced a few headliners of its own: Juno-award winner Alexis Puentes, folk singer/songwriter Mark Perry, and bluegrass performer Jenny Lester, among others.
From the Midsummer Music Festival in Smithers (www.bvfms.org), June 26 to 28, 2009, enthusiasts can follow a circuit of intimate, outdoor summer music festivals hosted in Northern B.C. communities. Plan a trip to take in some or all of the following events:
Crab Fest July 2 and 3, 2009. Rocks the Nisga’a community of Gingolx, perched at the mouth of the mighty Nass River, north of Terrace.
Atlin Arts and Music Festival (www.atlinfestival.ca), July 10 to 12, 2009, combines music with other performance and visual arts on the shores of Atlin Lake.
Kispiox Valley Music Festival July 24 to 26, 2009, on the grassy banks of the Kispiox River, northeast of Prince Rupert.
Edge of the World Music Festival (www.edgefestival.com), August 7 to 9, 2009, at the cedar-fringed Tlell Fairgrounds on east Graham Island, Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands).