Song & Surf attracted music lovers from all across Southern Vancouver island and beyond.

Song & Surf attracted music lovers from all across Southern Vancouver island and beyond.

Song & Surf: Music at the edge of the world

A review of the Port Renfrew winter music festival

Octavian Lacatusu

Sooke News Mirror

What if there was a place – in the middle of winter – where you could congregate and cozy up next to someone to listen live to some fresh-off-the-notepad songs with a nice beer in your hand…

Fortunately, there is.

It’s called Song & Surf; a “boutique-style” festival of music, dance and chillaxation, held every winter for the last seven years on the wild northwest coast of Port Renfrew. This year it was held at the iconic Big Fish Lodge, a small complex right by the beach overlooking the gap between the mountains, the Pacific and, well, infinity.

Before we go on however, it’s worth noting the humble beginnings and spirituality of Song & Surf, because there is something truly etherial about being at a winter music festival at the edge of the world (or civilization, take your pick).

“Nothing was happening here in winter, no cultural event, no venue, nowhere for people to come and experience all the ocean storms, the hiking, everything you can do in winter not just in summertime,” said Rob Stewart, owner of Big Fish Lodge and co-creator of Song & Surf.

Stewart, a musician himself, said giving the opportunity for young artists to perform together and connect in such a unique place was just too hard to resist.

“We wanted to organize something where people can come out in a small group, get a boutique feel to live music, so we’re really humble it caught on,” he said, adding that he wanted people to experience something a little more exclusive than the usual summer festival he co-hosts, Tall Tree.

“You’re getting really high-quality artists in a very intimate venue,” he said. “There are beach fires, a wood-fire hot tub, so it’s action here all day and night.”

It’s easy to see why; mountainscape as far as the eye can see, long and wide stretch of beaches and campgrounds, as well as the soothing swirls and rolls of the Pacific Ocean.

For an aspiring artist such as Luca Fogale, this is heaven.

“I’m just a big scenery guy, so just the backdrop and to get to play music right by the ocean in the middle of winter, it’s pretty unique for sure,” said Fogale, who played at the Tall Tree summer festival last year. “Just really good vibes here… it’s as West Coast as it gets.”

No doubt, it’s what equally drew Song & Surf’s co-creator, Mike Hann to Port Renfrew’s natural aura. Hann, a native of Victoria, was travelling with his band, Quoia, when he met Stewart.

“When we started, at that time Port Renfrew was making the transition from being a logging town to a sort of fishing/ecotourism destination,” Hann said. “The event really helps introduce people to the area because it encourages them to go out and explore, go on little spirit quests.”

Unlike Tall Tree, which runs every year in June, Hann notes Song & Surf has a completely different vibe- — more low-tune and relaxing, yet positive and warm; much like a hot cup of cocoa.

“We’re really selective with the kind of people and music we book; we look at who they are, because the people who come out to these events are really positive, active, good people — so we try to book acts that cater to that,” Hann said.

The lineup of musicians, which was split between a day and a night section of the event, offered a rich variety of genres, from indie rock, trance, alternative to jazz and the blues.

Among the evening performers was popular Australian blues artist Ash Grunwald, who has been touring through Canada for the last little while.

“I’m searching, building a bit of a career – you just can’t build in one place – you just see what sticks, and Canada sticks for me,” Grunwald said, adding this was his first time to Port Renfrew. “The people here, they know how to roll. I love it!”

And good news is, Song & Surf is not going away; if anything, Hann says, it’s only going to get bigger and bigger.

“This year we’re seeing the community get more and more involved,” he said, referring to the group’s latest community initiatives, the Make Music Now program that encourages and musically trains youth in the Port Renfrew area.

“It’s igniting this passion for music all around to go along with what’s happening here, so that’s fantastic,” Hann said.

Missed Song & Surf this year? No worries; you can catch the Tall Tree music festival this summer from the 26 to 28 of June.

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

Just Posted

Ron Sivorot, business director at Kennametal’s Langford site, the Greater Victoria facility that made a component being used on NASA’s Perseverance rover on Mars. (Jake Romphf, Black Press Media)
NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover using piece made at Kennametal’s Langford site

The Greater Victoria plant’s tooth blank is helping the rover’s drill collect rock cores

June Saxe, 2, enjoys the sunny shoreline at Whiffin Spit with her dad on March 5. The family had come out from Victoria for a day in the sunshine. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
PHOTOS: Warm weather brings Sooke’s Whiffin Spit to life

Visitors, locals enjoy warm weather at coastal viewpoint

Funding requests for the 2021 budget year, submitted by the Administration and Finance Committee, was approved by Langford council at the Feb. 16 meeting. (Black Press Media file photo)
Food awareness, seniors among Langford’s approved 2021 funding requests

New and returning community organizations to receive financial boost

Underground utility installations are underway on Latoria Boulevard at Latoria Road near Royal Bay Secondary and on Metchosin Road south of Latoria Boulevard. (City of Colwood image)
Road work hinders Colwood drivers in Royal Bay

Underground utility installation could run most of March

A rockfall closed Finlayson Arm Road and West Shore Parkway on Friday (March 5) afternoon. (Twitter/BC Transportation)
UPDATED: Malahat reopens following rockfall

Section of Trans-Canada Highway was scheduled for intermittent closures today for rock scaling work

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C. on the COVID-19 situation. (B.C. government)
Dr. Bonnie Henry predicts a ‘post-pandemic world’ for B.C. this summer

‘Extending this second dose provides very high real-world protection to more people, sooner’

Malawian police guard AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines after the shipment arrived in Lilongwe, Malawi, Friday March 5, 2021. Canada is expecting its first shipments of AstraZeneca vaccine next week. (Associated Press/Thoko Chikondi)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 cases climb to 634 Friday, four more deaths

Currently 255 people in hospital, 66 in intensive care

A crashed helicopter is seen near Mt. Gardner on Bowen Island on Friday March 5, 2021. Two people were taken to hospital in serious but stable condition after the crash. (Irene Paulus/contributed)
2 people in serious condition after helicopter goes down on Bowen Island

Unclear how many passengers aboard and unclear where the helicopter was going

Surrey Pretrial in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. transgender inmate to get human rights hearing after being held in mostly male jail

B.C. Human Rights Tribunal member Amber Prince on March 3 dismissed the pretrial’s application to have Makayla Sandve’s complaint dismissed

Supporters rally outside court as Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church is in court to appeal bail conditions, after he was arrested for holding day services in violation of COVID-19 rules, in Edmonton, Alta., on Thursday March 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
‘Law remains valid:’ Pastor accused of violating health orders to remain in jail

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms is representing the pastor

The Netflix logo on an iPhone. B.C. delayed imposing sales tax on digital services and sweetened carbonated beverages as part of its response to COVID-19. Those taxes take effect April 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Matt Rourke
B.C. applies 7% sales tax on streaming, vaping, sweet drinks April 1

Measures from 2020 budget were delayed due to COVID-19

A lawyer wears a face mask and gloves to curb the spread of COVID-19 while waiting to enter B.C. Supreme Court, in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, Aug. 28, 2020. British Columbia’s highest court has sided with the land owner in a dispute over public access to public land. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. high court finds in favour of large landowner in fight over access to pair of lakes

The Nicola Valley Fish and Game Club launched legal action after the cattle company blocked road and trail access

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a press conference in Ottawa Friday, March 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau holds firm on premiers’ health-care funding demands, COVID-19 aid comes first

Premiers argue that the current amount doesn’t keep pace with yearly cost increases of about five per cent

Free Reformed Church is seen as people attend service, in Chilliwack, B.C., on Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021. Lawyers for the British Columbia government and the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms are back in B.C. Supreme Court today, squaring off over the legality of COVID-19 rules that prohibit in-person religious services. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. top doctor has power to restrict access to a place during health hazard: lawyer

Under B.C.’s Public Health Act, Jacqueline Hughes says, Henry can restrict or prevent entry to a place

Most Read