Bigger, better, louder: Blizzard Fest returns!

Andrew Zwicker
By Andrew Zwicker
January 20th, 2011

Bigger, better and louder. There’s going to need to be some serious avalanche control starting this Saturday as a blizzard of beats rolls in and buries the town in a class five avalanche of music. Yes, Rossland’s own home-grown music festival is growing up and this toddler is celebrating its fifth birthday party with more people and more volume than ever before.

For starters The Blizzard will now last for a week, kicking off with a performance by what concert organizer Jonathan Provencal is calling “the best band ever to come to Rossland.”


The Seattle based jam band/progressive rock/all around talented band that is Flowmotion will be testing the sturdiness of the newly renovated Rafters Lounge at Red as they keep the party jumping. Bringing with them a similar story to that of Blizzard Fest’s own roots, the Tuques made the connection and brought them on board.


“Myself and the Tuques started this event five years ago because we were on tour and meeting bands and we thought, ‘let’s have a music festival in Rossland’. Flowmoton did the same thing in Seattle and called it the Summer Meltdown. So we called them and said, ‘can we play at your festival and do you want to play at our festival?’. So they are coming and playing Nelson, Rossland and Spokane on this trip. They are an amazing band. I can’t wait to see them,” added Provencal


Perhaps the biggest news of all at this year’s festival is its move from the Miners’ Hall and into RSS for its gala event, “The Eye of the Storm Party,” on the second Saturday of the Festival (January 29th). With Miners’ Hall shows selling out days in advance and a big demand for tickets the natural move was to step things up a notch and double the party’s size with a move into the 466 person capacity RSS auditorium. A cooperative deal made with the Rotary club (who had been using the space for their wine tasting event as part of Winter Carnival before moving their event into Prestige) opened up the space.


More party goers equals more ticket revenue which has, in turn, opened up the ability of the festival to go after some bigger name acts. Squarely putting Rossland on the international event tour, the group managed to attract DJ Krafty-Cuts to fly in straight from the UK for the show, after which he’ll immediately be flying out to his next show in Austria.


“We’ve bumped up the whole sound system, we’ve bumped up the amount of money we are spending on decorating and lights and sound,” added Provencal. “It’s bigger venue, bigger bands, and bigger sound. Changing venues has really allowed us to grow.”


Those that caught the Delhi 2 Dublin show when it came through town in December will be stoked to see Blackie and the Triumphs roll through town for the Eye of the Storm party. While D2D is on a break, their fiddle player has joined Blackie and the Triumphs for this tour.


“I’m really excited to see them,” noted Provencal. “Their music is very high energy, Celtic foot stomping stuff and all great songs in the Irish or Celtic form are about drinking so it’s quite comedic.”


The popular outdoor stage between the Credit Union and Ross Vegas will be back again this year and will also be bigger and louder. The outdoor beer garden/ice bar area will be expanded and a newer, larger sound system will be put to use. Star gazing street dancers will be able to dance among the moonlight Friday night the 28th and then again during the afternoon as three Nelson DJ’s including DJ Brick spin records while “The Game” rail jam contestants spin 3’s, 5’s and 7’s across the Street.


The small town festival hasn’t lost its place for local acts in the expansion and build up of bigger names. The Kootenays will be well represented with The Tuques, local favorites Dandelion and the Ditchweeds, The Wasabi Collective and Arthur Funkarelli coming down from Nelson and Cameron Bell and Shred Kelly from Fernie.


With their self-described best line up yet on tap for this year’s Blizzard Fest, the plea from organizers is around timeliness.


“The format is nonstop music between 9:00 PM and 2:00 AM for the Eye of the Storm party,” noted Provencal. “ Because it’s such a big night with a tight schedule the music starts tight at 9:00. If you arrive on Kootenay time you’ll probably miss at least two bands. All of the acts are awesome, so you should show up on time and get your money’s worth.”


So get out your winter party gear as Rossland is about to be hit by a weeklong Blizzard of good times, good people and better music, and this year for their fifth birthday, they’re turning it up to 11.

Get more information on the festival at its website

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