August Festival Round-up


by Daniel Emberg

Summertime signals a bevy of exciting festivals throughout Manitoba and fine music may be heard ringing across cities, woods, and lakes. One of the busiest weekends for festivals will be August 16-18, and here we focus on three festivals taking place during that stretch, which hint at the wide range of options available to Winnipeg music lovers.

Rainbow Trout Music Festival: August 16-18 (Oroseau)

This community-minded festival is beloved in Winnipeg for offering a diverse range of the finest local talent in a secluded rural setting. Rainbow Trout has a solid reputation with regard to the musicians on stage, but another of their focal points has been improving the site—and by extension, the entire experience for attendees.

According to festival organizer Ben Jones, “Now that Rainbow Trout has a gorgeous permanent home on the banks of the Rosseau River, we are able to make the site more amazing each year. Last year we added a sweet little swimming pond and this year we are expanding the camping area to hold another 200 people with room to spare. We plan to keep the festival intimate, and are focusing our energy on building an unbeatable site!”

Headliners include Mahogany Frog, Rastamils, Vikings, and Hana Lu Lu. Other notables include From Giants, Romi Mayes, and a rare appearance from Winnipeg favourites, the Lonely Vulcans. The range of styles represented on the roster is no accident, and Jones says, “There are plenty of amazing acts….We pride ourselves on having a lineup that showcases the best in local Winnipeg music.”

Tickets are going fast and available at Music Trader, Natural Cycle, and the Rose ‘n’ Bee Pub. More information at

Harvest Sun Music Festival: August 16-18 (Kelwood)

Combining quality music with an explicit commitment to supporting family farmers in the area, Harvest Sun is a respected destination for folk fans who view art as a meaningful instrument for social improvement.

In this, its eighth year, Harvest Sun is working alongside Farmers With Disabilities and the Farm and Rural Stress Line to raise support for independent agriculture. A hugely appealing component is an on-site farmers market, which gives local producers an opportunity to sell organic and sustainable foods. Tickets and camping passes are fairly priced, and Harvest Sun even offers a “puppy pass” for those who might otherwise miss out for lack of a dog-sitter.

As for the music, there is much that will tickle Manitoba folk families: Burnt Project 1, Rah Rah, Old Bones Buffalo, Cara Luft, Red Moon Road, and Sierra Noble are just some of the acts scheduled to appear. There will also be a lot of Al Simmons, who is pulling double duty as both a host and performer.

Local favourite JP Hoe, whose first Harvest Sun appearance punctuates a hectic summer full of festival performances throughout the prairies, had this to say: “I’m looking forward to eating the sustainable food from local farms, and participating in the group dynamic that makes a folk festival come alive. Old music friends, new friends, existing fans and new ones; folk festivals, as most people know, always create lasting memories.”

Advance tickets and camping passes for Harvest Sun can be purchased online at

Manitoba Electronic Music Exhibition (MEME): August 15-18 (Winnipeg – various venues)

Music lovers who stay in the city also have ample opportunity to hit some great shows, as the fourth annual MEME fills several downtown venues. Festival director Nathan Zahn says it has become, “probably the biggest urban electronic festival destination in western Canada,” noting that most comparable events take place in rural areas. This year, more than two dozen local producers line up with some of the biggest international names in electronic music.

It takes some brass for a festival to offer up its biggest act for free, but that is exactly what MEME has done; the legendary Funk D’Void plays The Cube (10pm, Aug. 17) for everyone to see. As explained by Zahn, “We are fortunate to have great sponsors… but those free shows at The Cube also attract big crowds that fill up our after-parties.”

Those after-parties showcase many of the best-known acts. Zahn says the ones to watch for include Daniel Steinberg (“dance friendly but still underground….it’s jazz and funk samples with more tech house stuff”) and Longwalkshortdock (“almost like a one-man band playing keyboards, drum pads, and singing. People who are mostly drawn to rock music like watching him”).

Many free shows are planned extensively for varied audiences and according to Zahn, “This year all the Cube acts on Sunday, like Desert Dwellers, are doing more of a worldbeat style combined with electronic sounds. Fans of the Folk Fest vibe will really enjoy those shows.”

MEME also hosts a full-day workshop, offering budding producers an opportunity to talk shop with world-class artists and pick up pointers on how to hone their craft.

Tickets are available at Into the Music, Stella’s at Plugin, Crown Toyota, or online at

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