Entertainment

Tall Tree music festival returns to Vancouver Island, bigger and better

The audience reacts to a performer at Tall Tree Music Festival on Browns Mountain near Port Renfrew in 2013. This year
The audience reacts to a performer at Tall Tree Music Festival on Browns Mountain near Port Renfrew in 2013. This year's festival takes place June 27 to 29.
— image credit: Leanne Green photography

Tall Tree Music Festival, Vancouver Island’s annual boutique festival of local and international acts, outgrew its original Port Renfrew site after the first iteration. Following the success of their fest, organizers went scouting a bigger venue and found themselves exploring logged land overlooking the town on Browns Mountain, a location, which despite some challenges, is flourishing five years later.

“It was slated to be a development property, which never went through,” said festival co-founder Mike Hann. “We hiked up and came across what is now the site. We just saw it, saw the vision for it. If you’ve been up there you can understand why we chose it. The view is phenomenal and we’ve got room to grow.”

And they have grown, with more camp sites and infrastructure added each year, amidst basic challenges such as lack of mobile phone reception or running water on the mountain. A natural spring now serves the site and with a third stage added this year  – a tent devoted to the electronic programming – there are that many more engaging live activities than those found within the ever-present smartphone. The site is equipped with more food vendors, better waste management, more art and showers.

Beyond the atmosphere atop the mountain, this year’s lineup has a lot to do with the fastest ticket sales Hann’s seen to date, at more than 80 per cent of the approximately 2,200 tickets sold more than a month before the event. Better-known names such as Dan Mangan and The Dudes have been an obvious draw, Hann says, but it’s the lineup “sleepers,” such as Australian artist Pete Murray, Nashville-based Canadian Lindi Ortega, Vancouver’s SonReal, or electronic artist Tipper, that he hopes show-goers will take the time to research, and be surprised by.

“This year more than ever, starting in October, we were getting emails from agents wanting to get their name on the Tall Tree bill,” Hann says. “It’s a credit to the artists who invested in it early on to develop the name as a great festival to be a part of in Canada.”

One of those artists who has help raise the profile with post-fest praise was Juno-winning producer/DJ crew A Tribe Called Red, who last year invited members of the Pacheedaht First Nation to the stage during their performance. It was a festival highlight for Hann.

“For people who aren’t sure,” he says, “it’s probably gong to be one of the most unique concert experiences that you’ll ever have.”

Tall Tree Music Festival also continues to uphold its environmental advocacy, with annual support given to the Ancient Forest Alliance.

For more details, including the full lineup – and tickets, if they haven’t sold out since the News’ press deadline – go online to  talltreemusicfestival.com.

arts@mondaymag.com

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