Sooke River Bluegrass Festival reaches out

The Victoria Bluegrass Association hosts the March 30 All-Star Bluegrass Celebration

The Sweet Lowdown members Amanda Blied (guitar)

A one-night preview of this summer’s Sooke River Bluegrass Festival is coming to Oak Bay this month.

Local bands The Sweet Lowdown, The Moonshiners, the Clover Point Drifters and the Riverside Trio, will share the stage at Oak Bay United Church on March 30 as part of The All-Star Bluegrass Celebration.

It’s a fundraiser and a sneak peek for the annual festival scheduled June 14 to 16 at the Sooke River Campground.

“It does more than highlight some of the talent for the festival with an awesome response,” said Phil Shaver of the Sooke Bluegrass Festival Society.

“It’s our first time doing the fundraiser in Victoria and it’s long overdue. The support from the Victoria bluegrass community, the band support, it’s all been overwhelming, everyone is in support of the festival.”

The society has made outreach efforts before but this is its first time getting out of Sooke and closer to downtown.

The Victoria Bluegrass Association hosts the March 30 show that will hopefully expose a larger audience to the Sooke festival.

“We are so excited the festival is happening again and we are very happy to be part of this fundraising event in support of the festival,” said Amanda Blied of The Sweet Lowdown.

Blied and her band, well-established in the Victoria scene, is currently touring in Ontario but will be back to share their original songs, played with an old time acoustic roots sound.

Also on the bill for the all-star celebration are the The Moonshiners, who bring three-part harmonies and instrumental excursions, The Riverside Trio, with a high energy gospel sound, and The Clover Point Drifters, whose repertoire includes traditional bluegrass songs with a bluegrass spin on songs from the country, folk, blues and pop genres.

Four more bands have officially committed to the June festival with many more on the way.

New to this year’s festival is square dancing on the Saturday night, with YOMADA, the Young Oldtime Music and Dance Association, who host square dances in town.

“The dancing will help bring the Victoria community to the Sooke festival,” Shaver said. “It’s a perfect venue, what festivals are built on, with camping and parking lot jamming. When the shows are done everyone jams.”

Also new is a huge festival tent to make sure that everyone is warm and dry and happy.

Show time is 7:30 p.m. for the Saturday, March 30 All-Star Bluegrass Celebration at Oak Bay United Church, 1355 Mitchell St.

Tickets are $20 and are available in advance at Royal MacPherson Box Office, Oak Bay United Church office, and at the door.