World music comes to Mission

Gala concert kicks off Mission Folk Music Festival on July 25

Blues icon Jim Byrnes is one of the featured performers at this weekend's Mission Folk Music Festival.

Fraser River Heritage Park will be transformed into a stage for world music July 26-28 for the 26th annual Mission Folk Music Festival.

Thousands of music lovers will either camp or settle in on their blankets and lawn chairs to enjoy three days of live music and workshops.

The festival, like every year, starts with a good idea and everything else is planned around it, said Francis Edwards, MFMF artistic director.

One of the most unique elements of this year’s show is the Women of Song category. Mary Gauthier, Eliza Gilkyson, and Lynn Miles are all highly acclaimed songwriters who have had their music performed by different artists.

They travel a lot, explained Edwards, and have never performed together. But that changes this weekend.

“Now they have the opportunity to play together on one stage,” said Edwards. “It’s a unique project you won’t find anywhere else.”

The trio will be playing on the main stage Sunday.

While Edwards continually tries to find ways to improve everyone’s experience at the festival, he notes there is never one big name or event during the festival.

“I want to see artists and audiences connect,” he explained. “We introduce new artists to audiences and audiences to artists. We’re not a celebrity-based festival.”

MFMF offers a broad range of music with the help of hundreds of volunteers who do everything from selling tickets to setting up tents and stages, and serving food. Volunteers also pick up musicians from the airport and arrange stays for some in local homes.

Edwards notes festival organizers try to limit the environmental footprint at the park, and he reminds everyone to bring their refillable water jugs as plastic water bottles will not be available at the park. Instead, there will be water stations to help quench your thirst and reusable canisters available to purchase.


Focal points

There are seven focal points at the festival this year.

• Roots and Blues. Award-winning musician and actor Jim Byrnes will be closing the show Sunday with The Sojourners. Byrnes is a Canadian blues icon, and The Sojourners are known for their gospel music. Other artists in this category include Hans Theessink and Terry Evans, Crow Quill Night Owls, and The Gallus Brothers.


• New Faces, Young Voices. The Archers, barely out of high school, were nominated for Young Performer of the Year at last year’s Canadian Folk Music Awards. The Spring Standards, a New York-based group, is another band in this category.


• Women of Song. Eliza Gilkyson is a storyteller whose work focuses around melodic folk-rock and catchy melodies. Mary Gauthier is a talented singer/songwriter whose work radiates with artistry and power. Ontario’s Lynn Miles is an acclaimed musician whose music is full of hope and grace.


• Made in B.C. Locarno offers a blend of Mexican jarocho rhythms, Cuban stylings and North American music. The Bills offers global acoustic music. Oliver Swain’s Big Machine will fill the park with big sound and play a 120-year-old goat-skin banjo. Viper Central offers traditional bluegrass and roots music.


• Irish and Scots. Dick Gaughan, a Scottish-born artist, is known for his traditional and contemporary folk songs. Mairi Campbell has a mesmerizing voice and loves traditional music. Comas is one of Ireland’s most traditional bands. Liz Carroll will bring audiences to their feet with her Irish fiddle.


• Aboriginal Voices

The Iskwew (pronounced Is-kway-yo) trio tells stories through songs. Boyd Benjamin’s repertoire features a gamut of songs and techniques.


• World on Our Doorstep

Italy’s Piccolo Banda Ikona brings sounds of the Mediterranean to Mission. Zimbabwe’s Zhambai delivers hypnotic music. Zimbamoto’s music features chants and sounds from the heart of Africa. Briga shares music from Eastern Europe. Prkestar Slivovica will play music from the Balkans.


The Mission Folk Music Festival kicks off July 25 with a gala concert at 7 p.m. at the Clarke Theatre, 33700 Prentis Ave. The rest of the festival will be held at Fraser River Heritage Park from July 26-28. The main gate opens at 5 p.m. for Friday’s evening concert. Daytime concerts and workshops begin at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Evening concerts for both days begin at 6 p.m.

Tickets are still available online at, by phone 604-826-5937 or at Shopper’s Drug Mart in Mission. Tickets will also be available at the gate.







Main Stage*, 6 p.m. to Close

• Zimbamoto

• Liz Carroll

• The Archers Band

• Comas

• David Francey



Day Stage, 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.


Stage 1

11:30 a.m. Masters of the Guitar

12:30 p.m. A Harmony of Voices

1:30 p.m. Music Camp

2:30 p.m. Zhambai

3:30 p.m. From Dublin to Flanders or Finding the Flemish

4:30 p.m. The Sojourners


Stage 2

11:30 a.m. Threefold Truth

12:30 p.m. Bow Poetry

1:30 p.m. Muckle Sangs, The Old and Not so Old, Songs of Scotland

2:30 p.m. Music BC Festival Showcase

4:30 p.m. Director’s Choice, TBA


Stage 3

11:30 a.m. Of Peat and Maple

12:30 p.m. Saturday Morning Blues

2 p.m. Canto Del Mediterraneo

3 p.m. Victoria Crossing 1

4 p.m. Victoria Crossing 2


Main Stage*, 6 p.m. to Close

• The Spring Standards (Trio)

• The Bills (Quintet)

• Dick Gaughan (Solo)

• Piccola Band Ikona

• Hans Theessink & Terry Evans (Duo)

• Locarno




Day Stage, 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.


Stage 1

11:30 a.m. Prohibition Era

12:45 p.m. The Flying Gwitch’in Fiddler

1:45 p.m. Iskew

2:45 p.m. The Gallus Brothers

3:45 p.m. Briga

4:45 p.m. Balkan Blast Orkestar Slivovica


Stage 2

11:30 a.m. Director’s Choice, TBA

12:30 p.m. When All Hope is Gone A Sad Song Says So Much

1:30 p.m. Delta Time

2:30 p.m. Pure Pacific Blue … Grass

3:30 p.m. Troubadors in Curious Times

4:30 p.m. Oliver Swain’s Big Machine


Stage 3

11:30 a.m. Gospel Session

1 p.m. A Mexican-Mediterranean Affair

2:30 p.m. The Spring Standards

4 p.m. Irish and Scots — A Seisiun


Main Stage*, 6 p.m. to Close

• Viper Central

• Crow Quill Night Owls

• Women of Song: Eliza Gilkyson, Lynn Miles, Mary Gauthier

• The Sojourners

• Jim Byrnes


* Concerts on Main Stage are not listed in order of appearance and are subject to change without notice.

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