Music in the park has been a tradition in Nakusp for 15 years now and this free weekly show is a rare treat that simply isn’t offered in many towns.
It sometimes seems like every local in the village knows all about Music, as well as everything else about Nakusp, and how it came about. So be warned, if you’ve lived in Nakusp all your life the first part of the article below may not be new information for you, skip to the middle and review which acts you’d like to see before this year’s Music season is over.
For those folks out there like me, who haven’t been here very long and don’t know much about Nakusp yet, I hope you enjoy it.
Fifteen years ago, Karen Hamling, the current Mayor of Nakusp, was a member of the council. Nakusp’s Village Council at that time had just finished improving the park, replacing shale with grass and installing in the big beautiful gazebo we enjoy now. Upon seeing the new park and gazebo Hamling knew she would like to see the space occasionally filled with a live band playing music for the public.
In the first year, Hamling said, there were only about 40 people in attendance each night. In the second year there were about 60 people. These days 150 to 200 people regularly fill the park enjoying the music. Getting performers has also become easier over the years; in the beginning Hamling had to rely on contact with the Revelstoke Arts Council to get acts. But after four years of shows it became easier to get bookings because now the bands call her, instead of the other way around, which makes Hamling’s job much easier.
While many great bands have played Nakusp Music in the Park over the years, Hamling’s favorite performers each year are the local bands. The last performance of the summer focuses on local bands and talent and as Hamling stated: “We have so many talented people in this community and it always turns out to be the best performance and the most fun.”
The thought of having live music for the village to enjoy is what drove her to volunteer to begin the music in the park program, and seeing all the happy faces enjoying the fruits of her labour is all the compensation she needs. Kathy Smith helps out at the shows by selling water, juice, and lemonade, with all of the money raised put into funding the shows. The summertime music event is one evening where patrons are not asked to contribute to the show with a direct monetary donation, but any donations offered are greatly appreciated.
Rec. Commission #4 has continued to support the program with $1,500 towards funding music in the park in Nakusp every summer for the past 15 years. This year’s other sponsors include Columbia Power Corporation, CBT Community Initiatives Funding, Kootenay Savings Credit Union, Kuskanax Lodge, Overwaitea and Hamling Lakes Cont..
On July 18 Steve Palmer brought his unique flavour of country roots to Music in the Park. Palmer, a solo singer and songwriter, performed his style is in the vein of ragtime, blues, gospel, folk and country. He backs up his vocals with a six- or 12-string guitar and performs part of the show instrumentally, without singing.
Sister Girl, another country roots outfit, had to take their gig indoors on July 20. The rain started on Friday evening and while the plan was to move Music in the Park into the arena in the event of rain, the power went out. Thanks to the arena’s solar power and the show went on.
July 25 was the Kootenay Savings Children’s Night which featured Danielle Savage and Ru the Clown, which made for a night filled with excitement, sing-a-long songs and fun, lots of fun. Everyone lucked out and the rain clouds that had been threatening earlier in the day cleared up to leave a warm, mostly clear evening.
Georgie Lyons, previously a music teacher in Nakusp, will be bringing her songs and beautiful, almost buttery smooth voice back to town on August 1. Her sound is mainstream country almost like a Carrie Underwood or Faith Hill.
On August 8, Willy Blizzard will play “Music to Warm Yer Bones.” Willy Blizzard, a group of singer-songwriters playing folk music with acoustic instruments, is made up of John Hough, Andrea Law, and Fran Madigan.
All three are very experienced musicians with impressive credentials and their experience is practically audible, their sound is very close to perfect. Their song writing conveys images of travel and interesting experiences while going about life. The music definitely has a folk vibe to it but also feels quite country; Americana is a very accurate description. It’s likely that Willy Blizzard will be a great show, very polished.
Holly and Jon, a blues duo formed in 2004, make an appearance on August 15. Holly Lorraine Burden has a great deal of experience not only in blues but also in jazz, country, and folk that is obvious in her voice. She has a beautiful tone and control over her sound that grabs you immediately as it hits your ear. Holly, who also plays bass, is accompanied by Jon Burden on guitar and back-up vocals. Jon has the kind of experience sometimes measured in the number of cars that one has driven to until it has too many kilometers to save with a simple mechanic’s visit. Jon’s blues guitar is really good, his country picking… fantastic.
Darrel De La Ronde and Saskia play lovely prairie folk music that they wrote, and they’re bringing it to us here in the mountains on August 22.
It’s a very Canadiana sound, so much so that you can almost hear the east coast in it despite it being prairie folk music. Darrel and Saskia are storytellers and you can hear it not only in the words but also in the notes.
On August 29, Music in the Park wraps up and local area talent will be filling the park!