The pandemic has forced music festival organizers around the world to adapt, and Kaslo is no exception.
And while the community is missing out on its signature Jazz Etc. Festival for the second year in a row, it seems the new Summer Music Series is a hit with local music fans.
“The public totally loves it, they want more of it,” says organizer Jean-Marc La Flamme. “I think most Kootenay communities have had a weekly music series. It was just Kaslo that had the one big festival. So we’ve had tremendous support.”
The village is known for the Jazz Etc. Festival, a mid-summer weekend-long party that turns the community upside down with globally recognized performers and big crowds. But COVID-19 changed all that, and this year the town’s music performance scene has been completely revamped.
What organizers Kootenay Lake Innovation Centre and the Langham have done is spread out the entertainment over Saturday afternoons all summer long.
“We’ve been trying out different locations like Vimy Park, and in front of the Kemball Centre,” says La Flamme. “So far we’ve gotten a lot of great support, and lots of donations from people to support the artists and crews.”
Since June, they’ve managed to have a new event every week, and up to 300-400 people attending.
“Most of the artists are regionally based, from the Slocan, Kaslo, Nelson, and North Kootenay Lake,” he says. “We’ve had all genres, folk, world, rock, electronics. It’s been quite the mix.”
Smaller outdoor venues also help adapt the event to the new pandemic reality, and all events are compliant with public health recommendations, he says.
“We have full COVID protocol in effect, signs up, and volunteer staff,” he says. “Our rule is, you have to boogie in your bubble. We want you to dance, but in your bubble.
“That’s worked so far.”
The music series will end Sept. 4, but La Flamme thinks its future is pretty bright.
“I think thousands and thousands of people want the big festival, at least the people who have traditionally come to the festival,” he says. “You are always going to have that. But we always talked about, how do we decentralize, and make it happen more frequently? And that’s what the Langham and KLIC have done.
“We really want to continue the scale of this decentralized festival, and make it happen more frequently throughout the winter and in the summer months.”
The Summer Music Series was organized and arranged by the Langham Cultural Centre and Kootenay Lake Innovation Centre, and supported by the Village of Kaslo, the Columbia Basin Trust and Columbia Power.