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Monday, 31 July 2017 14:55


Published in Underground News Written by
Monday, 31 July 2017 14:38

Element Music Festival

Published in Underground News Written by


The property at Snug Lake, home to the first annual Element Music Festival, August 3-6, was purchased in Spring of 2014 by Rob Christy. Since the purchase, it has been the team's dream to have a summer festival on the beautiful landscape with amazing views of the mountains surrounding it. “We’ve been looking for years. Looking for the right piece of property,” said Keither, “and our friend Rob has been keeping his eye on this property for a long time.  He didn’t tell us about when it went to auction, he was all over it.  He gave us a call and was like “dudes, get in your cars and come check this place out!”  We checked it out, we quit our jobs and moved here.”


“There’s so much serendipity,” said Keither, one of four festival organizers said about the creation of buying this property and creating this dream with some of his best friends. “We traveled to the States for so many years to see the bands we like. In our entire lives, there has never been a jam band festival in Canada.”


Bonfire Festival was a festival on the Sunshine Coast for many years that was created by Keither and his team. It was considered a “jam band festival,” but nothing like this year’s Element Music Festival.  “It was such a small scale,” said Keither. Bonfire had an attendance of 450 in 2005, and grew rapidly in 2006 with an attendance of 1200. Over the years, Bonfire had many issues with venue location and had to move from the Sunshine Coast to the Pemberton area, which was like starting over. “When you keep having to move locations, you can’t grow.”


Now that Element Music Festival organizers own their venue, they can build the festival every year.  This year is just the beginning. With the audience they built up through the Bonfire Festival, and with the purchase of their new property, Element Music Festival was ready to be birthed.


The team feels that with all the work they put into the festival, the property, building their audience, bringing in a stage and infrastructure to the Snug Lake Amphitheatre grounds... it’s now permanent.  ”We aren’t going anywhere,” said Keither.

“Rob, Bruce and I sat down and we went, okay, we have our venue.  In a dream world, who would we want to book?  Well, Phish is out of the question, for now…who knows about the future?  The next band on the list was The String Cheese Incident, and we’ve known these guys since 1999…and it would be really good to have a Garaj Mahal reunion.”


“We just got on the phone with some of the agents, we started sending pictures of the venue, told them our idea of building this incredible ‘mecca’ for jambands and this venue that can be compared to The Gorge Amphitheatre, on a smaller scale…it’s a lot like Hornings Hideout”.  Many attendees of the 2016 EMF are already referring to Snug Lake as 'The Gorge of the Okanagan/Kootenays'.  “The Gorge is 27,000 (capacity), when we’re done development, we’ll be in the 7000-8000 range” says Duggan, “and we've got a lake, right on site!”


With a population of 3000 in Princeton, BC, festival organizers can’t rely on the local community to attend the festival. The festival is looking at a crowd of over 4000 and have ticket holders from over 22 states, 7 provinces & 7 countries (Canada, USA, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Netherlands & England). The festival site has 8 lakes within a 20-minute drive and 3 lakes within a walking distance.


The festival has 4 nights of music with individual day passes that include parking & overnight camping, and the festival is highly encouraging people to stay the night so there is no drinking & driving.


The Element Music Festival won’t be serving alcohol, but there is a BYOB policy in place so people can bring their own alcohol to drink anywhere on site. Big Fun Circus will be on site and are coined the "Avatars of Joy" who specialize in circus performance and festival fun for both adults and children.


Top acts at the festival this year are: The String Cheese Incident, Garaj Mahal, Steve Kimock, Five Alarm Funk, Brickhouse, Big Easy Funk Ensemble, Artist-At-Large, Roosevelt Collier, Bokanté, Oteil Burbridge (Dead & Company) & Naryan Padmanabha.


I got to talk to Michael Kang from The String Cheese Incident from his home in Santa Cruz and this is what he had to say, “It takes time (to build a festival), but if you go into it and create a good experience, people will always come back. BC is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been”, he said. Kang is excited to play his new electric mandolin handcrafted by a renowned guitar designer, Scott Walker (www.scottwalkerguitars.com). Kang is a pioneer and key player in the evolution of the electric mandolin. “Scott’s a bad-ass builder…it’s been a work in progress, not too many people make these things. Kang’s 5-string octave mandolin is one of kind and he thinks that someday they will become more popular.


You can plan on seeing Kang sitting in on many peoples sets at Element Music Festival set to happen on August 3-6 at Snug Lake Amphitheatre near Princeton, BC in the gorgeous Cascade Mountains. The forecast is calling for blue skies, hot weather and starry nights. Weekend and day passes are available at www.elementfestival.info.

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