Square dancing under the big top at the Sooke River Bluegrass Festival was popular in 2013 and will be a feature at this year's festival.

Square dancing under the big top at the Sooke River Bluegrass Festival was popular in 2013 and will be a feature at this year's festival.

Pickin’ and strummin’ down by the river

Sooke River Bluegrass Festival set for Father's Day weekend

Last year you couldn’t wipe the smiles off people’s faces as they do sa doed and promenaded their partners under the big top at the Sooke Flats. Square dancing was a big hit and the Sooke River Bluegrass Festival Society is bringing it back.

“This is the second year of the Saturday night square dance,” said president Phil Shaver.  “That’s the big feature.”

Daniel Lapp and his House of Music students will tune their fiddles for the first half of the square dance evening and Victoria-based Yomada’s House String Band will end the show.

“It’s a real family fun thing,” Shaver said.

Lapp will play more traditional Canadian music while Yomada will play more “called” dances.

“Lapp is more free style,” said Shaver, “and he will add a whole new dynamic to the evening.”

Sooke is known for the Sooke River Bluegrass Festival. It’s gone through some reincarnations and the society is fully intent on keeping bluegrass music alive on the Sooke Flats.

There’s a number of “younger” bluegrass/newgrass performers on the scene these days and some of them are coming to Sooke on the Father’s Day weekend, June 13-15. Old time favourites like the Clover Point Drifters will join The Lonely Heartstring Band from Boston and the Slocan Ramblers from Toronto. Vancouver Island is well represented by Oliver Swain’s Big Machine (formerly of Outlaw Social) and new comers The Poor Pistols from Tofino. Victoria’s James Whittal & Friends round out the line up.

Bluegrass music enjoyed a surge in popularity when the movie O Brother Where Art Thou? came out, and it isn’t stopping any time soon.

Yomada’s House String Band was at Saseenos elementary school on June 5 to teach the students a little about square dancing. They got the kids doing simple dances.

“It’s fun to do and they always make mistakes, it’s not about perfection,” said caller Craig Marcuk.

Yomada’s descended from a rockabilly, with a bit of punk and old time music thrown in. They put on a couple of events each year in Victoria — the Boograss Scare Dance at Halloween and the Old Time Tidal Wave Festival in the spring. They are among the group of younger folks who are keeping bluegrass and old time music alive.

“We’re getting people to get away from their preconceived ideas of bluegrass,” said fiddle player Damian Ritchie.

As for the square dancing, Marcuk said it best, “Don’t worry how to dance, we’ll tell you what to do.”

So, along with the stage performances throughout the weekend, there is also the jamming which goes on all over the site, especially in the campground at night.

Call it parking lot picking’ of campsite jamming’, it’s all about musicians getting together to pick the night away.

“The novelty of the bluegrass festival is that we encourage that,” said Shaver. “The bands schmooze and jam with those who are less experienced.”

There is an open stage on Saturday from 11 to 12 noon for those who might want to jam. There are also instrument seminars hosted by the Lonely Heartstring Band (mandolin,  fiddle, banjo, guitar and bass). For more information on these contact Lisa Feeney at: thefeenster7@hotmail.com.

Camping at the Sooke River Campground is up to each individual and information is available at: www.sookecommunity.com/camping. Tickets are available for the full weekend or for daily admission. A weekend pass is $50, Friday only is $20, Saturday only $30 and Sunday only $10. Go to: www.brownpapertickets.com/event/635706 or at any Victoria Bluegrass Association event.

If you want more information on the bands performing and maybe even have a listen to them, go to: http://www.sookebluegrass.com/festival/index.php?page=music-lineup and click on the band you are interested in.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Students from SD62 stepped up to help members in the community with the annual 10,000 Tonight food drive. This year’s organizers had to adapt during the campaign as COIVD-19 public health orders changed. (Black Press Media file photo)
West Shore students step up to make sure community members don’t go without

Students of SD62 are this year’s recipient of the Youth Volunteer Award

A cat died in this house fire in Sidney afternoon. The fire started on the house’s deck and spread from that point. Sidney Volunteer Fire Department Chief Brett Mikkelsen said the permanent presence of crews at the Community Safety Building prevented worse damage. (Photo courtesy of Clayton Firth)
Sidney house fire kills cat, causes extensive damage

Official says fire started on deck and damage to the house could have been worse

Millstream Village is welcoming a new Marshalls location March 9. (Photo courtesy GWL Realty Advisors)
New Marshalls store in Langford brings boost to women in need

Retailer will hold opening ceremony in Millstream Village March 9

Abstract Developments is donating $75,000 to support community programming at The Cridge Centre for the Family. (Courtesy of The Cridge Centre)
Victoria developer builds support for community programs

Abstract Developments donates $75,000 to The Cridge Centre for the Family

SD 62 (Sooke) has announced a COVID-19 exposure at David Cameron Elementary in Colwood. Potential exposure dates are Monday, Feb. 22; Tuesday, Feb. 23; and Wednesday, Feb. 24. (Black Press Media File).
COVID-19 exposure at Colwood’s David Cameron Elementary

Potential exposure dates are Monday, Feb. 22; Tuesday, Feb. 23; and Wednesday, Feb. 24.

A health worker holds a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine to be administered to members of the police at a COVID-19 vaccination center in Mainz, Germany, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. The federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate, start with the vaccination of police officers in internal police vaccination centers. (Andreas Arnold/dpa via AP)
B.C. officials to unveil new details of COVID vaccination plan Monday

Seniors and health-care workers who haven’t gotten their shot are next on the list

A boat caught fire in Ladysmith Harbour on Saturday morning. (Photo submitted)
Search underway for missing woman after boat catches fire in Ladysmith harbour

A large boat caught fire on the morning of Saturday, Feb. 27

Lone orca from a pod that made its way north from Georgia Strait and into Discovery Passage on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. Photo by Ella Smiley/<a href="https://www.facebook.com/Comoxvalleywildlifesightings/?ref=page_internal" target="_blank">Comox Valley Wildlife Sightings </a>
Island wildlife viewers thrilled by close view of passing Orca pod

Group gives wildlife photographers a classic opportunity to view them off Campbell River shoreline

An investigation is underway after a man was shot and killed by Tofino RCMP in Opitsaht. (Black Press Media file photo)
Man shot and killed by RCMP near Tofino, police watchdog investigating

Investigation underway by Independent Investigations Office of British Columbia.

B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver on Tuesday December 11, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s compromise on in-person worship at three churches called ‘absolutely unacceptable’

Would allow outdoor services of 25 or less by Langley, Abbotsford and Chilliwack churches

Baldy Mountain Resort was shut down on Saturday after a fatal workplace accident. (Baldy Mountain picture)
Jasmine and Gwen Donaldson are part of the CAT team working to reduce stigma for marginalized groups in Campbell River. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror
Jasmine’s story: Stigma can be the hardest hurdle for those overcoming addiction

Recovering B.C. addict says welcome, connection and community key for rebuilding after drug habit

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

Most Read