Hillbilly Highway – Festival Season warming up


by Sheldon Birnie

Well, friends, the grass is turning green, the trees are budding, and sleeves are being cut off t-shirts at an alarming rate. That can mean but one thing: Festival Season is upon us, Manitoba! Get ready!

As I sit in the Dungeon Office here at Stylus, the press releases and information regarding Manitoba’s varied festivals keeps piling in. I’ve been copy editing the June/July issue of the mag, and we’ve got some Countryfest and Winnipeg Folk Festival features in print, and what’s looking to be a good amount of online coverage for JazzFest, Countryfest, Winnipeg and Brandon Folk Festivals, and that’s just the beginning. And we’re hoping to get some coverage of Arsonfest, Rainbow Trout, Harvest Sun and Harvest Moon, and more!

But the fun really gets going next weekend, in Cypress River and Morden, Manitoba. On Saturday, June 1, Cypress River hosts the Prairie Wind Music Festival, featuring Hillbilly Highway favourites Del Barber, Carly Dow, and the Reverend Rambler, plus plenty of other beauty roots acts, including the JD Edwards Band and the Bros Landreth. The next day, over in Morden, the Bros Landreth reprise their rocking role, and are joined by Jenny Berkel, Red Moon Road, Lakes & Pines, and Ghost of Charging Bison, and many more. Great way to get into the festival mood.

We’ve got Winnipeg Jazz Fest here in the city, which we’ll be covering here on the web, and reposting a lot of articles with local bands we’ve covered recently. Make sure to hit Old Market Square on that first weekend to get a taste. Then pick up your full week’s pass. There’s a lot of good stuff this year. Keep posted to this site for more info.

Then, of course, we have Dauphin’s Countryfest, Canada’s longest running country music festival, over the Canada Day long weekend. The line-up this year includes big names like Carrie Underwood, Luke Bryan, and Dierks Bentley. But it also includes a staggering amount of amazing alternative country and local talent. Hayes Carll (a favourite of mine, who we’ve got a feature on in the next issue of Stylus), Corb Lund, Shooter Jennings, and Justin Townes Earle are sure to please fans of gritty country music and sharp-as-nails songwriting. The list of locals is equally impressive, with the Sweet Alibi, F-Holes, our buddy the Reverend, and Del Barber. Provided we get our press pass, I’ll be reporting from Dauphin over the weekend, and hopefully doing some interviews with some of these folks.

Less than two weeks later, Winnipeg’s favourite outdoor party gets going in Bird’s Hill. We’ve got interviews with A Tribe Called Red in the next mag (out on June 6), and we’ll be lining up some more Q&As for our website here in the next month. I’m very excited to see Dr John, Lindi Ortega, Sylvia Tyson, and of course our local buddies Del Barber and the Mag 7s.

And that only takes us into mid-July. Later in the month, we’ve got a contributor covering the beautiful Brandon Folk Festival. Then, in August, there’s Harvest Sun out in Kelwood, Trout Forest out across the line in Ontario, and Rainbow Trout Music Festival and Fishing Derby. The season, as you know, closes out in September with Harvest Moon, which we’re hoping to cover again as well.

So get ready. Save up your pennies, air out your tents, and slap that sunscreen on. It’s Festival Season, Manitoba! Party on!

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