For many musicians included in this year’s Desert Daze Festival, it will mean a trip east from Vancouver to play in the magnificent desert landscape for the very first time. Although this route passing through Spences Bridge is familiar to a number of touring musicians, it did not become a stop for many until recent years.
In 2010, the Spences Bridge Community Club members and volunteers saw an opportunity to put on a festival to attract visitors, support local talent and celebrate rural life.
Three years later, the festival is alive and well, hosting an array of musicians including The Boom Booms, Emily Spiller, The Johnson Brothers, Linda McRae, Gary Comeau and the Voodoo Allstars, Maria in the Shower and The River and The Road.
In addition to their performance, Maria in the Shower will teach festival-goers about an ancient instrument called the rhythm bones, traditionally made from deer rib bones, traced back to African roots. Workshops vary in nature from yoga and pickling cucumbers to guitar, drumming and writing.
Maria in the Shower band member Jack Garton is no stranger to the festival circuit and loves the drive through the Fraser Canyon up into “BC’s desert area, which is different than anywhere else”.
“We love finding towns that are unique”, Garton adds. “We have a passion to be a part of the tradition of wandering musicians.” The particular draw to small towns and rural festivals “allows the discovery and exchange of the ancient practice of music, and so we tour a lot.”
An old gravesite in Spences Bridge inspired the concept for their latest album cover. He and fellow band-mate Brendon Hartley knew they wanted to re-visit the site after they stumbled across it on one of their many road trips. So they jumped in the car and began “the pilgrimage to the graveyard on a cold January”.
This conscious choice to visit the province’s quiet rural countryside and explore the gems of history along the way inspires Maria in the Shower. Their style reflects an unearthing of styles of times past. The majority of the music is original with a few traditional folks songs.
Garton compares this mixture of musical inspiration to “opening up an old trunk that you thought was full of moths and mould but is full of beautiful things”.
Aside from a jam-packed musical line-up, Desert Daze showcases delicious Okanagan fruit and a wide variety of vegetables from nearby farms. The apple-bobbing and seed-spitting contests remain one of the reasons the festival has garnered so much attention, in addition to the usual hot, sunny weather.
The festival kicks off with an aboriginal welcome ceremony with hand-drumming and singing on Friday, August 17th and runs for three full days.
For more information on artists performing at the 3rd Annual Desert Daze Festival, visit www.desertdaze.ca.
Tickets on sale online, ranging from $15 to $60 for a weekend pass.