Considering that the planet is headed straight to hell in a flaming handbasket, we’re starting to seriously think about our love of road trips. Is it actually wrong to look forward to loading up the Hummer in the summer and heading off to far-flung, exotic locales? Like, for example, Nakusp, British Columbia? Well, probably yes, but that’s not going to stop us from hitting the blacktop over the next few months.
After all, as much as we’ve all been programmed to think that Vancouver is the centre of the mini universe known as British Columbia, the reality is that it feels pretty good to get out of town. And, given our need for constant aural stimulation, it feels even better to get out of town and enjoy live music in a new setting.
With that in mind, the following happenings are well worth filling up the Hummer for, even if that’s only going to help ensure that we’ll all end up looking like extras from The Road 10 years from now. In other words, screw tomorrow—let’s party today.
Gibsons Landing Jazz Festival
(June 11 to 13 at various venues in Gibsons)
What you’re packing the Hummer for: The spirits of Louis Armstrong and Miles Davis unleashed on Bruno Gerussi’s old stomping ground. Now in its 15th year, the Gibsons Landing Jazz Festival gives Lower Mainland residents a reason to get on the ferry that doesn’t involve Molly’s Reach or the Persephone, with this summer’s lineup including Brad Turner, Hot Club of Mars, and SWARM.
Big Selling Point: Big-city jazz in a small-town setting.
Victoria Ska Festival
(July 7 to 10 at various venues in Victoria)
What you’re packing the Hummer for: Until that Lotto Max ticket comes up lucky sevens, the odds of you making that two-month guided pilgrimage to the reggae mecca known as Jamaica remain pretty long. Featuring topnotch revivalists like the Aggrolites, fusionists like Fishbone, and reprobates like the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies, this 11th annual ska spectacular is the next best thing.
Big Selling Point: Unlike in modern Jamaica, you can skank away without worrying about getting shot in the face.
Harrison Festival of the Arts
(July 10 to 18 at various venues in Harrison Hot Springs)
What you’re packing the Hummer for: For most of the year, Harrison is famous for its hot springs and a lake that’s part of an important Sasquatch migration route. In the summer, you can add the long-running Harrison Festival of the Arts to the list, with this year’s event spotlighting world-music mix-masters Delhi 2 Dublin, slide-guitar guru David Lindley, and impossibly cute Juno Award winners Chic Gamine.
Big Selling Point: Eight of the festival’s concerts take place on Harrison Lake’s beach, thereby bolstering your chances of an actual Sasquatch sighting.
Nakusp Music Fest
(July 16 to 18 in Nakusp)
What you’re packing the Hummer for: A lineup that’s nothing if not eclectic. What do the likes of the Headpins, Bif Naked, Default, the Trews, Eric Burdon & the Animals, and 54”¢40 have in common? Well, nothing, really, except that they’ll all be making the pilgrimage to Kokanee country.
Big Selling Point: After springing for a ticket, you’ll be obligated to either invest in a GPS or haul out a map to figure out where the hell Nakusp is.
Bass Coast Project
(July 23 to 26 in Squamish)
What you’re packing the Hummer for: Where do we start? Shaping up as a techno-heavy cross between Burning Man and Coachella, the Bass Coast Project features everything from a battalion of DJs to art installations to fashion shows to yoga sessions.
Big Selling Point: Given the amount of stuff to do, with the great outdoors only adding to the event’s already massive appeal, ending up bored isn’t possible.
Bonfire Music Festival
(July 23 to 25 at Moon Farm in Birken)
What you’re packing the Hummer for: A celebration of the good-times movement Phish helped make mainstream. You like jam bands? Then you’re going to love Bonfire, where acts like Headwater, Sixgun Buddha, Baked Potato, and New Monsoon will turn Birken into a mini Bonnaroo.
Big Selling Point: Organizers promise an event that’s beyond chill, trumpeting that the outdoor bash will be hassle-free. Jon Fishman would be impressed.
Mission Folk Music Festival
(July 23 to 25 at Fraser River Heritage Park in Mission)
What you’re packing the Hummer for: Forget thinking locally—the organizers of the deservedly celebrated Mission Folk Music Festival have opted for the global route, with talent flying in from such locales as Finland (Karoliina Kantelinen), Kenya (Kenge Kenge), Morocco (Al Andalus), and Brazil (Renato Borghetti). Get ready for a truly international smorgasbord.
Big Selling Point: As road trips go, this one is considerably easier on the old back than that time you attempted to do Sled Island in one Red Bull–fuelled haul.
(July 30 to August 2 at Filberg Heritage Lodge and Park in Comox)
What you’re packing the Hummer for: The great thing about B.C. is that it really is, as advertised, super-natural—not in a witches-flying-around-on-brooms way, but in an impossibly beautiful way, with the ferry ride to Vancouver Island confirming that once again. A roots- and blues-heavy lineup that includes Jesse Winchester, the Ginn Sisters, Fred Eaglesmith, and Spirit of the West helps celebrate the Filberg Festival’s 28th birthday.
Big Selling Point: Daily admission is only $15, or, to put things in terms that girl-drink drunks will understand, the price of a six-pack of Pyramid Audacious Apricot Ale at your local liquor store.
Salmon Arm Roots and Blues Festival
(August 13 to 15 in Salmon Arm)
What you’re packing the Hummer for: One of the most celebrated blues festivals this side of the Mississippi Delta. Or at least the Yale. Attracting, as always, world-class talent, this year’s edition includes heavy hitters Martha Wainwright, Watermelon Slim, Joan Armatrading, and K’NAAN.
Big Selling Point: The chance to grill grizzled old locals about the days when they worked the cotton fields in the blinding snow and the rivers were full of salmon with arms.
Vans Warped Tour
(August 14 at the Gorge Amphitheatre in George, Washington)
What you’re packing the Hummer for: If you have to ask, then you really need to take out a subscription to Alternative Press. The biggest package tour in show biz brings a buttload of spiky, dyed, and dirty punk and emo acts to one of the Pacific Northwest’s most beautiful venues. Bands worth losing a tooth or two in the mosh pit to include Anti-Flag, the Dropkick Murphys, Every Time I Die, and the Casualties.
Big Selling Point: Beer and cigarettes are cheaper in America, enabling you to get more bang for your welfare buck for that preshow parking-lot party.