Lay­ing down roots

Celtic Roots Folk Fes­ti­val hailed as ‘best yet’

The Compass - - OPINION - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER nmercer@cb­n­com­pass.ca

Com­ing off stage af­ter a strong set pro­duces a high sec­ond to none for any mu­si­cian.

Ask Car­bon­ear’s Justin Bow­man what it felt like af­ter his per­for­mance at the fourth Celtic Roots Folk Fes­ti­val in Car­bon­ear on July 12 and he’ll tell you the same thing. “It’s a re­ally good feel­ing,” he said. Play­ing with his fa­ther Bill, aunt Elaine Oates and cousin Char­lene Sud­brink, as well as Justin Gear for one tune, the group kicked off the fes­ti­val.

It fea­tured 15 acts and went into the early morn­ing hours of Sun­day, July 13.

“It went re­ally great,” noted Bow­man.

The 27-year-old wore two hats on fes­ti­val day. Not only was he a per­former, Bow­man is one of the or­ga­niz­ers of the event, along with Gear.

Folk fes­ti­vals, like Celtic Roots, tend to get bet­ter with each show­ing. As artists and the com­mu­nity be­come more ac­cus­tomed to the fes­ti­val, traf­fic starts to in­crease.

Bow­man said he has heard “a lot of com­pli­ments” since Celtic Roots wrapped up.

“It was ar­guably the best yet,” he said.

Ev­ery year the Celtic Roots fes­ti­val is held in­doors at the Knights of Columbus in Car­bon­ear. It cre­ates an in­ti­mate con­nec­tion be­tween the au­di­ence and the mu­si­cians. It also does some­thing else that sep­a­rates it from its com­pe­ti­tion.

This in­ti­macy places the fo­cus solely on the mu­sic and what is hap­pen­ing on­stage. Other fes­ti­vals will place a fo­cus on con­sum­ing adult bev­er­ages, with the mu­sic be­ing in the back­ground.

Al­most never hap­pened

Putting to­gether a folk fes­ti­val is hard work. It means long nights and early morn­ings work­ing the phones ar­rang­ing talent, en­sur­ing there is a venue and hav­ing the spon­sor­ships avail­able to pay for ev­ery­thing.

This year, it was even more work. The or­ga­niz­ing com­mit­tee was cut in half af­ter two mem­bers stepped away. As a re­sult, there was a time when it looked like the fes­ti­val might not hap­pen.

“There was a lot of pres­sure,” said Bow­man.

But, Bow­man and Gear dug deep and got things straight­ened out. It shows the pas­sion each have for the mu­sic they make and the fes­ti­val as a whole. Bow­man at­tributes this de­sire to grow­ing up play­ing mu­sic as a child.

“It stems from an early age and for love of the mu­sic,” he said.

Af­ter four years, the group is look­ing for­ward to bring­ing the fes­ti­val far­ther along in small steps.

Bow­man feels like ev­ery year the au­di­ence is get­ting big­ger.

“People are start­ing to come around,” he said.

Photo by Robert Thorn­hill/Spe­cial to The Com­pass

Peter Green from Vic­to­ria is pic­tured per­form­ing at the fourth Celtic Roots Folk Fes­ti­val in Car­bon­ear on July 12. Green is a mem­ber of a band called “Pros and Cons.”

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