Bluegrass musicians gather in Summerland

Festival brings performers from B.C. and Alberta

Bluegrass musicians from British Columbia and Alberta gathered in Summerland on the weekend for a jamboree.

The jamboree, at the Summerland Rodeo Grounds, has been held each June for the past 23 years and continues to draw a wide range of participants, said Bill Bates, secretary of the Summerland Bluegrass Group.

Bates said the weekend’s music — bluegrass and old country — features acoustic instruments including guitars, banjos, violins, upright basses and mandolins.

Musicians at the event would gather, form impromptu bands, hold a quick rehearsal and then perform from a stage.

“It’s not just the music; it’s the companionship as well,” Bates said.

Bands performed from the stage during the day and into the late evening, but the music continued long after the stage had shut down for the night.

“Some guys last night were jamming until two o’clock in the morning,” Bates said on Saturday.

Steve Fisher, the feature performer at the event, said the music has appeal in part because of its sound.

“The basic structure of a lot of bluegrass and old country is fairly straightforward,” he said. “It’s not as complex as jazz or classical music. However, there’s so much you can do within this style.”

He said jamborees are an opportunity for musicians of all skill levels to play together.

Fisher said those who continue with bluegrass can develop strong musical abilities.

“Bluegrass tends to produce a lot of virtuoso musicians,” he said.

Throughout the summer months, there are bluegrass jamborees around the province.

Sooke and Keremeos will each have bluegrass festivals on the weekend of June 15 to 17. Greenwood will host a jamboree June 22 to 24.

Castlegar and Chemainus will each hold festivals in mid-July, and Coombs has a festival scheduled for early August.

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