The Rainmakers of Haida Gwaii (pictured) will perform as part of the Virtual Special Woodstock 2020 festival on Sunday, Aug. 16, 2020. (Karissa Gall/Haida Gwaii Observer)

Rainmakers of Haida Gwaii set to perform for Special Woodstock

20th festival will feature musicians with special needs and other bands from around the world

The Rainmakers of Haida Gwaii will be the first band from the islands to perform as part of Special Woodstock, an annual festival that features musicians with special needs alongside other B.C. ensembles.

Now in its 20th year, the Duncan-based festival typically includes musicians from around Vancouver Island, but founder Shelley Vaags told the Observer she was able to open up the Aug. 16 event since it is being held online due to the pandemic.

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The Rainmakers’ set will be about 10 minutes of original music, including a pandemic song that guitarist Mark Baggaley wrote after being inspired by isolation orders and social distancing.

Baggaley, who used to play in a band with Vaags when she was a resident of the islands, told the Observer the Rainmakers are happy to be a part of an inclusive platform that allows musicians with special needs to show their talents.

Other members of the band are Julia Weder (vocals), Sean O’Neail (bass), George Farrell (mandolin), Shawn Gairdner (drums) and Brodey Lamarche (guitar).

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In addition to the Rainmakers representing northwest B.C., Vaags said the virtual format has allowed musicians from the Lower Mainland, Alberta and even a pop singer in Uganda who goes by Bravo Kay to be included in the 2020 lineup.

“I just like the idea of all his friends watching … and seeing what we’re doing with people with special needs,” Vaags said of including Kay in the lineup.

“We’ll hopefully have the world included.”

Special Woodstock 2020 will take place online from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Aug. 16. Those interested in viewing the festival should join the Virtual Special Woodstock 2020 Facebook group.

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