by Gillian Crowley –
The Folk ‘N Fiddle Festival is stepping out lively for its inaugural celebration of music May 31 and June 1 in Sidney and surrounding area. The organizers have designed it to be a fun and family-friendly event that will take place all over town.
The Victoria Fiddle Society and the Deep Cove Folk Club have joined forces to plan this exciting addition to Sidney’s festival scene. Its lead organizers, musicians Nellie Quinn and Bob de Wolff, bring enthusiasm and broad promotional experience to this gig.
Nellie is a well-known local fiddler and fiddle teacher who last year organized the 2018 Victoria FiddleFest. Currently this energetic 20-something musician is president of the Victoria Fiddle Society and previously spent four years with the Kole Crook Fiddle Association teaching fiddle in schools in the Northwest Territories. Nellie’s brainchild – the Folk ‘N Fiddle Festival – has grown out of the original fiddle festival. Through the Deep Cove Folk Society she connected with Bob de Wolff who is a life-long musician and music promoter. His roots go deep in the folk scene: he was part of the original team that organized the first Calgary Folk Festival in 1980 and also co-founded the Nickelodeon, one of Calgary’s longest running folk clubs. Since moving to North Saanich in 2009, he has been active with the Deep Cove Folk Club as a director and producer of special concerts.
Sharing a similar philosophy, Nellie and Bob decided the Folk ‘N Fiddle Festival should have a combination of free and ticketed events to make the festival accessible for all. The entire Mary Winspear Centre has been booked for concerts as well as three different types of workshops – music discussions, introduction to an instrument or musical concept, and a master class with a limited number of participants. A Youth Stage will be also be part of the festivities to give those under 25 a chance to showcase their talents.
The festival lead-off Friday evening will feature Darol Anger and Mike Marshall fronted by local band West My Friend. Darol Anger is a renowned American fiddler, composer and producer who has developed and popularized new techniques for playing contemporary music styles on string instruments. He’ll be playing with Mike Marshall, a master on mandolin, guitar, mandocello and violin. Nellie says, “I’m delighted we could get these two top musicians as they don’t come to Canada very often.”
At last count, eight other acts have been confirmed including Coco Love Alcorn, a singer-song writer known for her “joyful soul” music and Del Rey, an American blues singer and guitarist. A unique performance will be given by Alex Wells, a hoop dancer from Lil’wat Nation near Mount Currie, B.C. Island talent includes fiddler Daniel Lapp, The Sweet Lowdown trio, Denis Donnelly (founder of the Victoria Folk Music Society) and Salt Spring’s Wesley Hardisty, fiddler and winner of an Aboriginal Peoples’ Choice Music Award. Coming from further afield are three award-winning Canadian musicians: Franco Ontarian fiddler Pierre Schryer, B.C guitarist Adam Dobres and Nova Scotian fiddler, Troy MacGillivray.
Bob says: “As a musician I’m especially looking forward to the jamming sessions with other musicians as well as the workshops.”
A variety of events will be held around Sidney during the festival, including free concerts at the band shell and at ArtSea Gallery in Tulista Park. Pop-up music will be found at coffee shops and other venues while Irish jigs and step dancing will be part of the music at the Mary Winspear. Bob and Nellie encourage individuals and families to come out for the day to hear what is happening around town. Everyone is invited to the family-friendly “barn dance” that will be part of Saturday’s early evening celebrations.
With music, song, dance, workshops and food trucks, the Folk ‘N Fiddle Festival is set to become a gold star addition to Sidney’s festival scene.
Photo by Rick Nordin.