Tulameen River flows with brass

During the weekend music festival, Orkestar Slivovica took a walk down to the Brown Bridge swimming hole.

Orkestar Slivovica cools down  in the Tulameen River during the Princeton Traditional Music Festival.

Orkestar Slivovica cools down in the Tulameen River during the Princeton Traditional Music Festival.

It’s been often said that every person and every place has a story to tell and if places could actually speak, our very own Tulameen River would have a unique story to boast about.

During this past weekend, the sixth annual Princeton Traditional Music Festival was held in  the down town core.

One hundred plus performers filled Veterans Square and the museum grounds from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The Princeton Library was host to an acoustic stage and the Golden Hills Ice Cream Parlour as an open mic stage on Saturday as well.

During the heat of the afternoon, Orkestar Slivovica, a Balkan Brass Band out of Vancouver, took a break from the festival—danced and played their way down Bridge Street and right into the Tulameen River.

“They went straight in playing their instruments, some of them with just their face and instrument poking out of the water,” explained Lucy Nylund and Kay Goglin, two locals who were enjoying the festival. “It was just great,” they added.

The three day festival began early evening on Friday with welcomes from festival founders, Rika Ruebsaat and Jon Bartlett, Mayor Frank Armitage, Area H director, Brad Hope, MP Alex Atamanenko and MLA Jackie Tegart.

The evening then carried on with the festival street dance with music from the Psycho Acoustic Celi Band and instructions from Keri-Ann Thor.

Veteran’s Way filled with dancers of all ages who either learned a new dance or perfected one they already knew.

Saturday and Sunday saw the streets of Princeton fill with performers, visitors to the festival and an impressive amount of locals out  enjoying it this year too.

“There are way more people this year,” said Jean Mackie, who was vending popcorn this weekend. “Rosemary (in charge of vendors) did a great job, she added.”

A couple having their photo taken at the Gazebo “Princeton” sign heard about the festival from friends and travelled from Hope to attend.

“We will come back every year,” they said, “this was so nice.”

The festival performers don’t just make music—they tell stories. If you listen, you have the opportunity to learn about history, people from other places, lost loves, found loves and even how people from the past are much like people of today. You can learn that is possible to find goodness in almost any situation, as well as the fact that a bit of scoundrel or vixen can be found within us all.

One such story teller, is Orville Murphy. Murphy is an 87 year old harmonica player originally from Kentucky. His grandmother taught him to play when he was about seven. He served in the Navy during World War II, got married and “didn’t really play a lot during those days.” “I picked it up again in my 60’s,” he said.

Murphy participated in the ‘Blues Workshop’ during the festival as well as performed with his partner Jerry Middaugh.

Local Jason Gasparetto, a young and talented blues performer himself, was in awe of Murphy, Barry Hall, and Henk Piket—all performers in the workshop.

“These guys are just incredible,” he said, “you gotta just let em go and do their thing.”  “They are awesome.”

Murphy and Middaugh entertained and taught a little history with songs about a dispute that was settled “in self-defence” with the purchase of two pistols… a bit of laughter ensued with a song about a “high maintenance woman” — “with turkey red bloomers.”

The two have performed in five festivals this summer and according to Murphy—first time to the Princeton festival, “this one is the best.”

Ruebsaat and Bartlett could not say enough about the community support they received for the festival this year.

The Town of Princeton gave ‘a whole bunch of assistance,’ beginning with the wonderful site for the festival. The Princeton business community support was incredible, the vendors made such a nice festival atmosphere and the Princeton Ambassadors and Chamber of Commerce were a terrific help in promoting.

Included in the thank you’s as well were all the volunteers, billet homes, the Princeton Museum, the Princeton Branch of the Okanagan Regional Library, the RDOS, the federal and provincial governments, the Princeton Arts Council, the Princeton Legion, the Similkameen Newsleader and the Similkameen Spotlight and to the performers Ruebsaat added, “we are blessed to have such incredible, talented musicians.”

With the increased amount of community support, Bartlett summed up the weekends success by stating simply, “it is not just our festival—it has become our festival.” (Princeton’s Traditional Music Festival)

Kudos to the festival committee; Rika Ruebsaat and Jon Bartlett, Derek Winter, Ole Juul, Stu James, Mary Maisel, Pat Schmunk, Johanna Nott, Rosemary Doughty and Darnella Armitage. Great job everyone.