The Kaslo Jazz Etc. Festival is at a new stage in its life — literally.
The festival, which runs Friday through Sunday, is marking its 20th year by debuting a new floating stage.
“It’s brand new, and it’s a beauty,” says executive director Jim Holland. “That was a major project for us to undertake.”
The stage on the water has always been a unique extra touch for the festival, but Holland says the old one simply wore out.
“It was built on graciousness using volunteer labour and materials. It served its time, and after 20 years, it’s done. The new stage sets us up for another 20 years.”
The stage has the same footprint as the old one, but Holland says it looks “much cleaner and more unified, whereas before it was hobbled together a bit. It’s one solid structure now.”
Nelson contractor Nelcon Marine built it. The finishing touches were still being put on it Monday.
“This is a project we’ve been working on for about five years,” Holland says. “We saved money toward this, and this year we got some healthy grants to support and complete it.”
They’re still paying for it, and will be doing some additional fundraising activities.
As for the festival itself, Holland says they are targeting a younger demographic, in a bid to appeal to a broader audience.
“The whole summer festival experience in BC has become much more competitive,” he says. Overall numbers have been down like most festivals, although ticket sales remain strong, and the Friday night concert may be close to a sell-out.
“It’s looking really good, but it’s not back to the heyday of the Blue Rodeo show with 2,000 people attending — which is a bit crowded for the community anyway,” Holland says.
Friday night will feature younger artists who have come to prominence through CBC Radio 3, including Dan Mangan, Dehli 2 Dublin, and The Crackling.
That same feel will be sprinkled through the whole weekend, with up and coming bands that should appeal to typical jazz audiences, Holland says.
Saturday’s highlights include Mr. Something Something, Australian songstress Toby Beard, and Vancouver blues player David Gogo.
Sunday will have a strong blues feel, with harpist Mark Hummel and the Blues Survivors, plus the Jim Byrnes Band.
Holland says their programming strategy has remained the same for many years running: 50 per cent jazz, and the rest blues and Latin.
“It’s going to be a really upbeat festival,” he says. “A little more high energy than usual, but not in your face or anything.”
For tickets see kaslojazzfest.com.