Anyone walking down the streets of Princeton on the weekend of August 21-23rd shouldn’t be surprised to hear fiddle tunes wafting across Bridge Street. Looking west onto Veterans Square they’ll see a big tent with a stage and people sitting in chairs tapping their feet or maybe even dancing in the street. Walking down Vermilion Avenue towards the Museum they may hear bagpipes or cowboy poetry or perhaps a song about sailing on the tall ships.
All of this and much more is the kind of music featured at the Fourth Annual Princeton Traditional Music Festival. Over 100 musicians will be in town that weekend, some of them local, many of them from the coast, and some from as far away as New England and California.
The Festival begins on the evening of Friday, August 19th with the opening ceremony followed by an Irish country-dance on Veterans’ Way beside the Legion. The dance will feature a live band with fiddle, guitar and concertina. Everyone is welcome. There will be a caller to teach the dances so no experience is necessary and people don’t even need to bring a partner. On Saturday and Sunday there will be music from 10 am until 6 pm on two stages – one on Veterans Square and one in front of the Museum. And it’s all free! No admission will be charged.
This year we have a number of new faces at the Festival and over the next few weeks we’d like to introduce them to you in this column.
The person traveling the farthest to share his music is Bob Webb from Phippsburg in Maine. We are thrilled to have him on the program with his wide-ranging musical talents and expertise. Bob is an internationally acclaimed presenter of Appalachian banjo tunes and ballads, songs of the Pacific Northwest and music of the 19th century sailors. His music ranges from mountain banjo breakdowns to unaccompanied ballads; from fingerstyle guitar to the country blues to sea songs with big choruses. During 40 years of performance Bob has shared the stage with Doc Watson, Elizabeth Cotton, Mike Seeger, Gordon Bok, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee and Mamadou Diabaté. He learned some of his guitar technique from and occasionally accompanied the legendary Mississippi bluesman Sam Chatmon (1897-1983). Much of his maritime artistry came directly from the “last shantyman”, Stan Hugill (1906-92), the final sailor from the age of merchant sail to publicly present the songs he learned at sea.
Another new face this year is Felix Possak from Peachland. Felix, who calls himself “Canada’s banjo virtuoso and multi instrumentalist”, performs a one-man musical variety show. His music is from all corners of the earth and ranges from folk songs and ballads to blues and ragtime. Felix studied piano and classical guitar in his youth and has been performing all his life. He is currently the resident entertainer on the Kettle Valley Railway in Summerland.
These are just two of the new performers coming to this year’s Princeton Traditional Music Festival and the best thing about it is it’s free! The reason it’s free is because it’s run entirely by volunteers and the performers are donating their talents. To make the festival a success the organizers will need lots of volunteers. If you’d like to get involved, please contact them. Even if you have only a couple of hours available your help would be most welcome. Give them a call and they’ll welcome you aboard. To find out more visit the Festival’s webblog at princetonfestival.org or give Jon and Rika a call at 295-6010.