Maple Ridge bluegrass aficionados getting ready for summer festival

The audience seated behind Gordie Sadler couldn’t keep their feet from tapping as he played his banjo at a Pitt Meadows council meeting last week.

If the performance had taken place anywhere else, the lead singer for the bluegrass band 5 on a String would surely have coaxed the crowd into a hoedown, accompanied by the cool strumming Colin Goldie from the band The Still Blue.

“That was just awesome,” said Peter Vanderlee, a senior director for the True North Fraser Bluegrass Festival, which is getting ready to pack the Albion Fairgrounds on the Labour Day long weekend, Aug. 29-31.

Last year’s inaugural festival drew more than 1,000 people with 150 tents and RVs camping on the fairgrounds throughout the weekend.

We rebranded a 25-year-old Chilliwack festival, said Vanderlee as he thanked council for their support of the event.

“We gave it a welcoming home.”

The festival has a goal of turning Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows into a destination for bluegrass lovers. Half of the festival’s steering committee is made up of returning volunteers.

However there’s always room for more helping hands.

The festival is looking for more sponsors and volunteers.

Among the bands slated to play this year are Joe Mullins and the Radio Ramblers from Ohio, Windy Hill from San Francisco, Rural Delivery from Seattle and B.C. bands 5 on a String, Scout Mountain and the Sweet Lowdown.

While most music festivals see their performers play their set then retreat back to their respected trailers or buses and never to be seen again, the heart of the bluegrass festival is as much based on the music played at the campsites as it is on the main stage.

This year’s festival promises more impromptu jams and music circles. There will be a nightly corn roast and stalls featuring everything from musical instruments to home-made soap.

• Volunteer or sign up as a sponsor at truenorthfraserbluegrass.com.

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