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Soulfest highlights Canadian music

Saturday, 15 July 2017. Posted in Shootin' the Breeze

Soulfest highlights Canadian music
A new festival sign created by Phil Hogg of Mountain View   Photos by Auralea Boldt

Soulfest highlights Canadian music

By Auralea Boldt

“The hosts are fantastic!” says area resident Ola Crook when you ask what she liked best about Soulfest. “The music was grand. Small festival, big heart!”

This past weekend, cowboys, hippies, hipsters, rockers and ordinary people united at the 11th annual festival.

Soulfest is the brainchild of Jeny and Phil Akitt, owners of Twin Butte Country General Store and Mexican Restaurant, and is an expression of their love of music.

“We have this festival to highlight the bands,” Jeny says.

They host what she describes as a “tiny, community-oriented festival” over a July weekend on their picturesque acreage near Twin Butte.

The land is transformed into a festival site complete with a barn-wood stage, large tents, porta-potties and this year an enormous Slip ’n Slide.

The ticket price was $60 for the weekend of music, dinner on Saturday evening and breakfast on Sunday morning.

The festival featured blues, alternative, rock, folk, bluegrass, country, gypsy and indie music.

Cam Penner and John Wood were the hosts for the event.

Bill Durst kicked off the festivities to a warm reception on Friday evening.

He is an award-winning blues artist who has been a featured performer at prominent festivals such as the Montreal International Jazz Festival. He was a founding member of the band Thundermug from London, Ont., for which he was inducted into the city’s music hall of fame.

Patrick Alexandre, Caroline Mark, Rotary Park, and Boots and the Hoots were other featured performers.

While the temperature rose over the weekend, adults and children stayed cool in the creek, in the shade, or taking turns down the Slip ’n Slide.

The audience built gradually in size throughout the day on Saturday.

Against the backdrop of a full moon, Blackberry Wood Circus — an eclectic band with a gypsy, folksy, alternative sound — served as the climax of the festival on Saturday evening,

They wowed the crowd with their unique music and enthusiasm, but also with their overall performance. As their name implies, watching the band is a little like attending the circus.

They even brought their own boa constrictor, wrapped around the body of one of the band members.

Along with its headline acts, Soulfest attracts a loyal following of fans who return year after year for the festivities.

One concertgoer says she has been here every year for nine years — except for the weekend she had to attend her son’s wedding.

“Once you go to Soulfest, you are a lifer,” says Jeny, organizer of the event.

While it does grow to a larger size some years, the small scale of the festival is a major part of its charm.

“I love that by Saturday night you can have met everyone there and have made 20 new friends,” says Kassandra Chancey, a Twin Butte restaurant employee who worked behind the scenes on the weekend. “It’s all about the community and being together.”

“We become a family for the weekend,” Jeny says.

If the T-shirt stands, mass vendors, food trucks, liquor licence and mass advertising came in, Soulfest would be something else entirely.

It hasn’t sold out, in either the literal or the metaphorical sense.

“Soulfest is straight from Jeny and Phil’s heart,” says concertgoer and area resident Karla Breeze. “And everybody who goes can feel it.”

Festivalgoers Lisa Melanson Zilavec, left, Darci Lounsbury and April Lambert gush over Lora D’Agnillo’s wares, a unique collection of jewelry and artwork.

Daelen Breeze stays cool, despite the hot temperature, by riding down the huge Slip ’n Slide.

soul 2
Carolyn Mark starts the Saturday afternoon show on a high note, even getting the crowd to sing along.

Read more in this week’s online edition here.
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From the July 12, 2017 print edition of Shootin’ the Breeze.
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