The bluegrass festival is back in Chilliwack.
After a five-year absence, Jeff Bonner of Tractorgrease decided it was time to bring bluegrass back, though on a slightly smaller scale.
“In the bluegrass world, Chilliwack was put on the map. There’s a real tight community of bluegrassers here,” says Bonner. “This year we’re bringing it back in our way.”
Once a weekend-long event at Heritage Park, the new Chilliwack Bluegrass and Country Music Festival will pack seven different artists into a day filled with guitar-strummin’, banjo-pickin’ bluegrass tunes on Saturday, Aug. 26.
A long-time festival-goer of the original Chilliwack Bluegrass Festival (which ran for 25 straight years), Bonner came up with the idea to revive it after both patrons and bands at his establishment, Tractorgrease Cafe, kept asking what happened to the bluegrass festival.
“We do a monthly bluegrass night here and everyone loves it,” he says.
Now, the festival has returned.
“There are rumours there’s going to be a corn-shucking contest,” he says with a smile. “Which is something that was traditional at the [original] Chilliwack one.”
And what’s a bluegrass festival without jamming sessions? After the live bands have packed up for the night, the music will keep going as folks gather to casually play together under the moonlight.
“The jams afterwards were a cool part of it — a very social music event,” he adds.
It will all be taking place at Tractorgrease’s new stage area, which was just recently built to accommodate more guests. The new stage was used for the first time on Canada Day.
The seven-band lineup that will take to the new stage includes: The Lonesome Town Painters, 5 on a String, Murfitt &Main, The Bottomshelf Bourbon Trio, Stringer and Friends, plus two band who’ve never played Tractorgrease before: The Spillionaires, and East Van Grass.
The Chilliwack Bluegrass and Country Music Festival starts at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 26 and goes until late at Tractorgrease in the Chilliwack River Valley.
Following the bluegrass festival, the inaugural Tractorgrease Folk Fest will take place the next weekend.
“This is a lot of the bands who have really supported the Tractorgrease Cafe and we’re bringing them all together. It’s the big showcase of some of the talent you can expect here,” say Bonner.
Here’s the lineup of the bands and how Bonner describes them: six-piece band Whitey “Chilliwack’s favourite funksters,” Langley band The Kwerks “a married Barenaked Ladies” duo, Kelowna’s Tiger Moon “a folk duo with wicked harmonies,” The Great Atlas “an indie rock fiddle/violin-based duo,” Dennis Bouwman “an alt-country songwriter” and his brand-new band, Skeeter and the Deets “a fun old-time country band with punk-rock attitude,” the Tractorgrease Folk, plus more.
“These [shows] are two of what I think are many more to come,” says Bonner. “We’re really trying to offer a fun, casual atmosphere to take in music,” he says.
Both the Chilliwack Bluegrass and Country Music Festival and the Tractorgrease Folk Fest start at 2 p.m., go until late, and are family-friendly. The bluegrass festival is Aug. 26, and the folk fest is Sept. 2. There will be seating, but people are welcome to bring their own lawn chairs if they wish. Limited camping is available both weekends for those wanting to stay overnight (call 604-858-3814 to reserve a spot).
Tickets are $25 for each event and available by phoning 604-858-3814 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.