Hometown singer-songwriter Mary Egan and Ron Ingram playing for an appreciative crowd at last year’s Music in the Lake: Summer Nights event in July.

Hometown singer-songwriter Mary Egan and Ron Ingram playing for an appreciative crowd at last year’s Music in the Lake: Summer Nights event in July.

Music in the Lake: Summer Nights changing tempo

Summer Nights series performers will hit the stage in Central Park on July 4.

After facing concerns over losing funding and a lack of volunteers, organizers of Music in the Lake, Lake Cowichan’s annual outdoor summer concert series, announced this week that the event would be continuing this year, albeit with a few changes.

Among those changes will be a new format, switching the weekly concert schedule to a bi-weekly one. Organizer Elvin Hedden explained that the change was necessary, due to him and the few other organizers of the event not being able to commit as much time this year.

“We’re getting older, and we’re getting tired of putting all this time in,” he said.

While there will be fewer concerts this year, five in total, Hedden said the group is hoping to add to the remaining performances. Additions include a “family-oriented” hour of entertainment prior to the main event, consisting of activities such as face painting and open mic sets. He also said that bands and other performers may be booked specifically for the family hour. The group also plans to have food vendors, such as barbecue and ice cream, present at Central Park.

The change in format was decided at an emergency public meeting last Tuesday (April 28). Going into the meeting, organizers were concerned that cutbacks at the Cowichan Valley Regional District (CVRD), a major financial supporter of the event, would lead to a funding cut for Music in the Lake. Thankfully for live music fans, the event was unaffected, receiving $500 each from both Area F and Area I of the CVRD.

Music in the Lake: Summer Nights has been taking place at the bandshell in Central Park since 2011, booking mostly local bands. Local radio station CICV 98.7 FM also records and broadcasts the performances over the airwaves. The event initially garnered a large amount of support from local non-profits, though the support began to taper off the following year.

“A lot of non-profit groups came out that first year, expecting to make a lot,” Hedden said. “That didn’t happen.”

Although organizers of Music in the Lake: Summer Nights have been struggling to find volunteers to help with the event, they hope the new scheduling format will relieve them of at least some of their worries.

“Most groups [in Lake Cowichan] are having difficulty finding volunteers, and its too much work for a small group to do,” Hedden said. “The new format has volunteers from the non-profit groups working together each night, instead of each working on different nights, and I think it will go quite well.”

Meanwhile, the group is still organizing their last two Winter Nights concerts and are planning on bringing the monthly event back to the 50 Plus Activity Centre in September. Cara McCandless and PixElle will be headlining the next event, planned for May 16, with a set of folk-grunge. The final event, scheduled for June 20, will feature Ray Harvey and Jack Gunderson, who also headlined Winter Nights in January. Admission to each event will be $5 and refreshments will be available.

Winter Nights is planned to return in September, though it may run under a different moniker, considering its expansion into a nearly year-round series.

Organizers are continuing to seek more volunteers for Music in the Lake, and will be holding a public meeting at Country Grocer on May 26 at 7 p.m.

Music in the Lake: Summer Nights kicks off July 4, and will continue each other week through July and August from 6 to 9 p.m.

“We want to make a big splash this year,” Hedden said.

Lake Cowichan Gazette