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Osoyoos Bluegrass/Country festival draws music fans from far and wide for its 8th annual weekend event
Shirley Carless admits she wasn’t much of a bluegrass music fan until recently, but said she’s having a musical change of heart after attending numerous festivals like the Osoyoos Bluegrass/Country festival this past weekend.
“I’m learning to love it,” said Carless, who along with her husband Jim made the long trek from Prince George to Osoyoos to attend the eighth annual festival this past Thursday to Sunday at the Desert Park racetrack facility. “My husband plays guitar and he has even convinced me to take some lessons to try and learn the guitar.
“I have to admit I wasn’t a big fan at all, but I’ve attended a few of these festivals and am beginning to really love bluegrass music.”
Carless was particularly looking forward to attending the Osoyoos festival because it combined musicians who love both country and bluegrass music.
“I find most country music is about cheating hearts, while bluegrass music is often a little darker … and there are some murder songs, which I find intriguing,” she said. “This is our first time at this festival and we’ve heard nothing but good things about it, so it should be a very fun weekend.”
Carless and her husband are going to be hearing plenty of music over the next couple of weeks as they are heading to Midway for the bluegrass festival being held this coming weekend.
They also attended the bluegrass festival in Castlegar in mid-July.
Jim Carless said there’s a spirit of camaraderie and friendship at small town bluegrass and country music festivals you don’t often find anywhere else.
“People are very friendly and they’re not shy to get up on stage and sing during the open mic sessions,” he said. “Most of the musicians are very passionate about this kind of music and so am I.
“I’m really looking forward to playing with a lot of these musicians and sharing our love of bluegrass and country music.”
When the performers aren’t singing on stage, they often gather around vehicles and play and sing until the early morning hours, he said.
“There are usually some beautiful socials at these festivals and that’s what I enjoy probably the most,” he said. “You get to meet people you didn’t know and you share your love of music and you end up meeting a lot of really great people.”
Claudine Neilsen, the secretary-treasurer of the Osoyoos Lake Lions Club, said her organization has been a proud sponsor of this festival since its inception and several members were looking forward to a great weekend of music and fun.
“This is a great little event for the Town of Osoyoos and we’re very proud to act as the host organization,” she said. “We invited fellow Lions from across the region, including members from Kamloops and Kelowna, to help us organize this year’s festival and they gladly reached out to help.”
Barry and Shirley McLean made the short trip from Twin Lakes to attend the Osoyoos festival for the third time in the past four years.
While he “dabbles with the guitar” and will play with other beginners after the concert stage is closed down, Barry McLean said he loves the spirit and laid back atmosphere of the Osoyoos festival.
“It’s the people that make this such a great event,” he said. “Everyone is friendly and they just want to sit back and relax and listen to some good music.
“There are also a lot of very talented musicians and they love to play with other musicians they haven’t met before. It’s a nice thing to see.”
The McLeans are also headed to Midway this weekend for that village’s bluegrass festival and will then attend the festival in Greenwood the weekend after that5.
“We see a lot of the same faces at all of these festivals,” he said. “There are a lot of people our age, so you get to know a lot of them and you become friends.
“My only concern is most of the people playing this style of music are getting up there and there don’t appear to be a lot of young people attending these festivals and I get kind of worried this style of music might die out because of that. I would hate to see that happen.”
Marg Chadsey, a member of the local band Sagebrush, and event organizer for this year’s festival, said she was happy with the number of people who attended and said she already looks forward to helping organize next year’s event.