As Revelstoke’s Summer Street Fest 2018 winds down for the season, Miriam Manley gives us the highs and lows of the season.
“It was a great season,” says Miriam Manley, Executive Director of the Revelstoke Arts Council. “The feedback was positive and people were really blown away by some of the talent we had performing this year.”
The weather was difficult to contend with this summer – early season rain and late season smoke has been a challenge, but as a long running, nightly festival, adverse weather is a given.
“The weather can be disappointing, especially when there are torrential downpours the night of an amazing band, like on Canada Day,” Manley says. “This year we introduced more robust policies to cope with the weather. Previously, if there were three strikes of lightning we would close. Now, if there is thunder and lightning, everyone knows what to do and we may temporarily close down, but if the storm moves on, the music will start again.”
Also new this year is the addition of professional sound technicians and a P.A. system that boasts sub woofers at nearly every performance.
“It made a huge difference,” Manley says. “In years past we have had speakers, but the sub woofers allow the audience to hear the base. Having professional sound equipment and technicians mean the balance of the instruments is so much better.”
The bands themselves were well received by tourists and locals alike. Manley worked hard to bring in exceptional musicians, and while it is hard to pick favourites from such a large amount of talent, she mentions some stand out performances.
“The Derina Harvey Band was great,” she says. “Derina has such a massive voice and the east coast feel made for a lively show. The Tequila Mockingbird Orchestra is reliably incredible.”
“We also had some big scores. It was an honour to host Iskwe, an indigenous artist who plays large venues. Local singer Aza Deschamps opened for her, so between local support and tourists it was a big night. The Tri-Continental Band was also amazing to have. People came from out of town just to watch them perform.”
Manley worked hard to ensure diversity in 2018’s musical lineup.
“I had heard on the CBC that music festival lineups average 82 per cent male performers,” Manley explains.
While working on her line up for summer 2018, she was conscious of that fact. “I found some amazing all women groups,” she says.
“We ask a lot of our performers,” Manley says. “At most festivals or performances, bands play one set, maybe two. In Revelstoke they perform three sets, which is about three hours of playing. That is a long time for groups to maintain their energy and have enough material.”
In an effort to make the evening more hospitable for bands, several local restaurants joined forces with the Arts Council to provide every band with a meal.
The Arts Council, Manley stresses, strives every year to make Street Fest even better.
“Next year we hope to have the pro sound every single night and look into updating our signage,” she says, “as well as continuing to bring in quality musicians.”
With a few more nights of Summer Street Fest left, be sure to head on down to the Mackenzie Plaza and enjoy the last days of summer music.