If you have ever had a conversation with me about music festivals, I will have told you that Salmon Arm Roots and Blues is my all time favorite. Twenty-one years old, this 3-day fest draws interior BC folk, Vancouver Island dwellers and Albertans to attend this high caliber music festival. It is known for seeking out fresh acts and putting them up on a stage before others take notice.The list of discovered stars includes K’Naan, Feist, and Shane Koyzcan, Serena Ryder, and many more.
The Harpoonist & the Axe Murderer played Roots and Blues for the first year, mentioning that they have been dying to play this gig since they formed their band. Their infectious bluesy harp and slide guitar-heavy rock and roll swept the early Friday crowd off their feet and had the Boogie Barn stirring up the dirt and stomping their feet. They were a great choice to kick off the festival and would play additional sets through the weekend where their fan base expanded noticeably.
Ky-Mani Marley, son of the late and great, cranked up the reggae vibes on the main stage performing a lot of originals. Ben Waters put on an amazing piano show at the Boogie Barn to close down the night.
Saturday morning, Ben Waters joined Vancouver duo ,The Harpoonist & The Axe Murderer for a jazzy morning jam at the Focus Stage. These morning sets are perfect for sitting back and brushing last nights dance dust from your eyes while waking up to amazing music.
The next workshop at the Boogie Barn was Finnish beatboxer, Felix Zenger and Eastern European gypsy rock band, BerlinskiBeat. It was my first time seeing any of these artists and I was glad that they performed again throughout the weekend.
With scorching heat and minimal space in the tented stages, we sought shelter among the trees at the Shade Stage and fell into a trance listening to the masterful Harry Manx pluck away on his guitar in the afternoon shade.
Relatively new to Roots and Blues is the inclusion of traditional DJs, with Kid Koala last year and A Tribe Called Red and Skratch Bastid this year. A Tribe Called Red blends popular electronic dance hits with native chanting and drums in an interesting fusion of ancient and modern cultures.
The Belle Game is another Vancouver band playing for their first time at Salmon Arm. The sultry vocals of Andrea Lo, backed by heavy guitars riffs and tremulous synths makes for an eerie but enjoyable sound that warmed up the stage Sunday for what was to come.
Santa Lucia LFR
The Balconies performed their second set Sunday night at the Boogie Barn, bringing all the rock ‘n roll that was left out from their Sunday morning set. This included a wild cover of Janis Joplin’s “Piece of My Heart”, and another crowd sing along favorite “Do It In The Dark”.
Dallas Green and his band, City and Colour, played a lengthy set to shut down the festival Sunday night on the main stage, starting before Skratch Bastid and continuing after his set at the Boogie Barn.
Skratch Bastid takes us back to when DJs actually jockeyed discs. His old school roots mixed with popular hip-hop samples were enjoyed by all. He was joined by Felix Zenger who beat-boxed on top of his djayed beats creating the ultimate collaboration by two masters in their own right.
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