The 35th annual Coombs Bluegrass is happening August 1-4 and people can expect more than just top-notch music.
The event also has free music workshops throughout Saturday and Sunday, a variety of food, 50-50 draws and raffles, open jams, parkin’ lot pickin’ and more.
The Foggy Hogtown Boys from Ontario will be gracing the stage for the first time at the festival, although they have played in the area before. The popular group plays traditional bluegrass, some numbers with a distinct old-timey sound and others with an upbeat, modern edge. Longtime organizer of the Coombs Bluegrass Festival, Linda Thorburn, said she’s been trying to get the group to play at the festival for years, but the members have very busy schedules. She’s thrilled to have them, she said, and people will be blown away by the talent of fiddle player John Showman.
“He’s one of the most amazing fiddle players I think I’ve ever heard,” she said. “He’s a madman.”
Mark Phillips and 3rd Generation will be performing their hard-driving traditional bluegrass with some gospel influences. Thorburn said Phillips is very popular at the festival.
“He just doesn’t stop,” she said. “He keeps playing because people want to dance to his music because they’re fast (songs). It’s dancing bluegrass (music). The last time he played two years ago, I’ve never seen so many people dancing.”
Other performers at the festival include 5 on a String from Port Coquitlam, Just Us from Victoria, The Barley Brothers from Salt Spring Island, Thorburn’s own group from this area, Backporch Banjo, and the Blue Touques from Eagle Bay, B.C. Thorburn speaks very highly of Blue Touques particularly her friend in the duo, Chris Stevens. “I think Chris is the best banjo player on the West coast,” she said. “He’s amazing.”
The Old Time Fiddlers, who have been performing at the festival since its inception, are performing, and some of the members are in their 90s, Thorburn said. And then there’s the Backroom Boys, who played at the very first Coombs Bluegrass Festival, and one of the members of the group actually hatched the idea to begin holding the festival. That was Riel Aubischon, who now lives in Alberta. Workshops include the Slo-Pitch from 11 a.m.-noon Saturday and Sunday with Coleen O’Brien, for those in the beginner stages of playing, and there will be a variety of other free workshops for the bass, banjo, guitar, fiddle, clawhammer, songwriting workshops and more.
Everyone who plays an instrument is encouraged to join in the Biggest Bluegrass Band in B.C. Sunday night where people are grouped according to what instrument they play.
There will be a variety of food vendors, and local products and merchandise for sale at the festival. People can camp at the site for free if buying a three or four day pass. Tickets are $80 for adults for all four days, $60 for 12-18 year-olds and under 12 is free. A day-pass for an adult is $35 and an evening pass (after 5 p.m.) is $25. The event takes place at the Coombs Rodeo Grounds. For more information visit www.coombsbluegrass.com or call 250-752-0383. Tickets are available at the gate beginning August 1.