A pioneering force in the music industry, Michael Franti believes in using music as a vehicle for positive change. Michael Franti & Spearhead bring a message of positivity wrapped in inspiring music to the Roots & Blues mainstage Friday night at 10. (Hiroki Nishioka photo)

Michael Franti and more make for a hot Shuswap experience

The 26th annual Roots and Blues Festival brings a world of music to Salmon Arm this week

Here we go again!

Get out your deck chairs, hats, sunscreen and water bottles because the hottest show of a Salmon Arm summer is only a few sleeps away.

The 26th annual Roots & Blues Festival opens at the Salmon Arm Fairgrounds on Friday with another stellar lineup.

Laze in a chair at the Blues Stage and let the blues speak to your soul, or dance to the rhythms of other amazing artists on three other stages.

End a day made rich with a world of music with stunning Main Stage headliners: Michael Franti and Spearhead on Friday, The Family Stone on Saturday and Colin James on Sunday.

Related: Family brings San Fran funk sensations to Salmon Arm

As always, the Barn Stage will be hopping, this time with Harpdog Brown and Big Dave McLean hosting Harpdog and Big Dave’s Juke Joint closing the action Friday night.

Saturday night MonkeyJunk will play to the last note at the Barn and the Lil Smokies will lift the lid off on Sunday night before closing the stage down for another year.

To get the skinny on these and all the other not-to-be-missed artists, go to www.rootsandblues.ca or pick up a program on-site.

The program also includes a welcome to traditional Secwepemculw territory by Kukpi7 (Chief) Cliff Arnouse of the Adams Lake Band.

As well, check out all the palate-pleasing food vendors and where to find them, along with the location of the beverage gardens and wine lounge.

Related: Roots and Blues plans to lighten the load

As always, festivalgoers will be able to browse and buy music and T-shirts in the Merchandise Tent as well as a wide variety of interesting creations at the Artisan Market.

Families with young children will want to check out the Hub International Family Fun Zone with its Engage Stage for family music and movement. Children under 12 are admitted at no charge but must be accompanied by an adult. Daycare service is provided by certified volunteers to children three and older.

Look for the giant life-like creations wandering throughout the site and catch the magic of the Kinshira Fire Show Saturday night in front of the Blues Stage.

The liveliest crawl of all, the Super Crawl, begins Tuesday, Aug. 14 and makes its way through several downtown locations, coming to a rousing crescendo at the Barn Stage on Thursday, Aug. 16.

Venues include Askew’s Uptown at noon and 5 p.m. Tuesday, and Wednesday on the Wharf at 6:45 p.m. Wednesday.

The places to be on Thursday include: Salmon Arm Arts Centre and Shuswap Pie Company at 5 p.m., Shuswap Theatre on Hudson Avenue with concerts at 5:45, 6:45, 7:45 and 8:45 p.m., Salmon Arm Legion at 5:30, 6:30 and 7:30 p.m., Ross Street Stage at 7 and Barley Station Brew Pub at 7:30 p.m.

Then it’s off to the fairgrounds for the House Band at 8:10 and The Boom Booms at 9:30.

Get an energizing boost to the day on Saturday before heading to the festival. Daybreak Rotary will serve breakfast with music from 8 to 11 a.m. in the parking lot of Central Service at 391 Seventh St. SW. Nathan Tinkham will play from 8:45 to 9:30 a.m. and The Front Porch Trio will entertain from 10 to 10:45.

Local restaurants will serve a $5 breakfast at the Ross Street Plaza, accompanied by the Chris Ronald Trio at 9 a.m., Daniel Lapp at 10 and Saltwater Hank at 11.

Artistic director Peter North is again proud of the lineup he has created for Roots and Blues 2018.

Related: Michael Franti and Spearhead return to Roots and Blues

“We’ve kept our festival different from the other festivals in Alberta and B.C., the ones we compete with,” he says, noting people who want to see Harry Manx, The Family Stone, Rick Vito and the Lil Smokies will only get the opportunity to do so at Roots and Blues. “Little Jimmy Read, a 78-year-old bluesman from Arkansas, is one of the last of that generation out there. I think we have a lot to offer.”

North says as well as setting Roots and Blues apart from other festivals, organizers keep tweaking things to try to make the festival even better every year.

Executive director David Gonella agrees.

“I am just amazed with the continued commitment from volunteers and staff, so committed to make sure it’s the best it can be each year,” he says. “We did a lot of work on just process, like fine-tuning. The stress level is the least I’ve ever felt at this stage.”

Gonella says part of calmer waters is due to the board agreeing to hire a year-round volunteer co-ordinator. “They’re not trying to pinch, they’re trying to find how to make this better.”

A big change at the festival is the introduction of a new eco-friendly policy by which no plastic water bottles will be available for sale and food vendors will serve their meals or snacks in compostable serving dishes. Festivalgoers are encouraged to bring their own water bottles and refill them as needed at one of the water stations around the site.

Another 2018 innovation is the introduction of a large food-eating tent to be located adjacent to the food court, along with four or five “chill” tents scattered around the site.

“There’s no purpose other than just hanging out in them,” says Gonella.

There’s still time to buy tickets at www.rootsandblues.ca or at the gate at the Salmon Arm Fairgrounds on the corner of Fifth Street and Fifth Avenue SW.


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