The Evolution of Blues, Roots, and BBQ in Columbia

The Evolution of Blues, Roots, and BBQ in Columbia

The Birth of a Musical Legacy

I can still remember the first time I stepped foot on the grounds of the annual Roots n’ Blues n’ BBQ Festival in Columbia, British Columbia. The air was thick with the scent of smoked meats, the sound of soulful melodies drifting through the crisp autumn breeze, and the infectious energy of music lovers from all walks of life. This festival, nestled in the heart of Canada’s breathtaking west coast, has become a pilgrimage for those who seek to immerse themselves in the rich tapestry of blues, roots, and barbecue culture.

But the story of this beloved event doesn’t begin here. No, its roots (pun intended) can be traced back decades, to a time when the province’s musical landscape was just beginning to take shape. It was a time of exploration, of rediscovery, and of a deep reverence for the enduring power of the blues.

Uncovering the Blues Revival in British Columbia

The 1960s saw a resurgence of interest in the blues across North America, as a new generation of listeners sought to connect with the raw, emotive power of this enduring art form. In British Columbia, this revival took on a unique character, as the province’s diverse cultural influences converged to create a vibrant, eclectic scene.

One of the key figures in this movement was the late, great Amos Garrett, a virtuoso guitarist and singer who helped to introduce the blues to a new audience. Garrett’s soulful, dynamic performances captivated audiences across the province, and his tireless efforts to promote and preserve the blues legacy left an indelible mark on the local music community.

“Amos Garrett was a true ambassador of the blues,” recalls local music historian Evelyn Swann. “He had this uncanny ability to connect with people, to make them feel the raw emotion and power of the music. He was a musical force to be reckoned with.”

Alongside Garrett, a cadre of talented local musicians and promoters worked tirelessly to nurture the blues scene in British Columbia. Venues like the Railway Club in Vancouver and the Blue Grotto in Victoria became hubs of activity, hosting regular performances by both established and up-and-coming artists.

The Rise of Roots Music

As the blues revival gained momentum, a parallel movement began to emerge – the rise of roots music. This genre-defying sound, which drew inspiration from folk, country, and the enduring traditions of Americana, found a welcoming home in British Columbia.

One of the pioneers of this roots renaissance was the late, great Stan Rogers, a singer-songwriter whose rich, baritone voice and poetic lyrics captured the rugged beauty and enduring spirit of the Canadian landscape. Rogers’ music, with its evocative storytelling and masterful musicianship, became a touchstone for a generation of British Columbians who yearned to connect with their cultural heritage.

“Stan Rogers was more than just a musician – he was a storyteller, a poet, a keeper of the Canadian soul,” reflects local radio host, Jamal Deen. “His music had this way of transporting you, of making you feel the wind in your hair and the salt on your skin. It was a true reflection of the British Columbian experience.”

Alongside Rogers, a cadre of roots artists began to emerge, each bringing their unique perspectives and musical styles to the table. From the folk-infused sounds of the Cowboy Junkies to the bluegrass-tinged tunes of the Be Good Tanyas, British Columbia’s roots scene blossomed into a rich, diverse tapestry.

The Birth of Roots n’ Blues n’ BBQ

It was against this backdrop of musical innovation and cultural exploration that the seeds of the Roots n’ Blues n’ BBQ Festival were first sown. In the late 1980s, a group of local music enthusiasts and civic leaders came together with a vision – to create an event that would celebrate the province’s rich musical heritage, while also showcasing the delicious world of barbecue cuisine.

The first Roots n’ Blues n’ BBQ Festival was held in 1989, drawing a modest crowd of music lovers and BBQ aficionados. But over the years, the event has grown into a true cultural institution, attracting tens of thousands of visitors from across the country and around the world.

“When we first started the festival, we had no idea that it would become the juggernaut that it is today,” reflects Marilyn Sinclair, one of the festival’s founding organizers. “But we knew that we had something special – a unique blend of music, food, and community that just seemed to resonate with people.”

Indeed, the Roots n’ Blues n’ BBQ Festival has become a cornerstone of British Columbia’s cultural landscape, serving as a vibrant showcase for the province’s thriving music scene while also celebrating the rich culinary traditions that have long been a part of the region’s identity.

The Evolution of the Festival

As the years have passed, the Roots n’ Blues n’ BBQ Festival has continued to evolve, adapting to the changing tastes and interests of its ever-growing audience. From the introduction of craft beer and cocktail gardens to the expansion of the festival’s culinary offerings, the event has remained at the forefront of cultural trends and innovations.

One of the most significant changes to the festival has been its commitment to showcasing a diverse array of musical acts, from established superstars to up-and-coming artists. “We’ve always been committed to honoring the traditions of the blues and roots music,” says festival director, Emily Jameson, “but we also want to keep things fresh and exciting, to introduce our audience to new voices and new sounds.”

“The festival has this incredible ability to bring together music lovers of all ages and backgrounds,” reflects longtime attendee, Samantha Leung. “You can be standing next to a teenager who’s discovering the blues for the first time, right alongside a seasoned vet who’s been coming to the festival for decades. It’s a truly inclusive, welcoming experience.”

Indeed, the Roots n’ Blues n’ BBQ Festival has become a hub of musical exploration and discovery, a place where the past and present converge to create something truly special. From the soulful wail of a blues harmonica to the driving rhythms of a bluegrass banjo, the festival’s programming has always been a reflection of the diverse, ever-evolving nature of British Columbia’s musical landscape.

The Culinary Complement

Of course, no discussion of the Roots n’ Blues n’ BBQ Festival would be complete without a nod to the festival’s other major draw – its world-class barbecue offerings. The festival has long been a mecca for BBQ enthusiasts, attracting some of the top pit masters and smokers from across the country to showcase their culinary prowess.

“The barbecue at this festival is truly in a league of its own,” says local food critic, Dominic Weaver. “You’ve got everything from classic St. Louis-style ribs to innovative, West Coast-influenced smoked salmon. It’s a true celebration of the art of barbecue.”

But the festival’s culinary offerings extend far beyond the realm of barbecue. Over the years, the event has welcomed a diverse array of food vendors, serving up everything from gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches to decadent, locally-sourced desserts. “The food at this festival is a true reflection of British Columbia’s vibrant, diverse culinary scene,” says Weaver. “It’s a feast for the senses, a chance to explore the unique flavors and ingredients that make this province so special.”

The Spirit of Community

At its core, the Roots n’ Blues n’ BBQ Festival is a celebration of community – a gathering of music lovers, food enthusiasts, and cultural aficionados who come together to share in the rich, enduring traditions of British Columbia. Whether it’s the camaraderie of sharing a plate of smoked brisket with a new friend or the shared experience of swaying to the soulful sounds of a beloved artist, the festival has a way of bringing people together in a way that is truly magical.

“This festival is more than just a series of concerts and food vendors,” reflects longtime attendee, Liam Hawkins. “It’s a place where you can connect with your roots, where you can feel the heartbeat of this province. It’s a celebration of the things that make British Columbia so special – the music, the food, the people.”

Indeed, the Roots n’ Blues n’ BBQ Festival has become a beloved institution, a touchstone for those who seek to immerse themselves in the rich cultural tapestry of British Columbia. And as the event continues to evolve and grow, it is a testament to the enduring power of music, food, and community to bring people together, to inspire and uplift, and to create lasting memories that will be cherished for years to come.

So if you find yourself in British Columbia, I urge you to make the pilgrimage to the Roots n’ Blues n’ BBQ Festival. Immerse yourself in the soulful sounds of the blues, the heartwarming rhythms of roots music, and the mouthwatering aromas of world-class barbecue. It’s an experience that will leave an indelible mark on your heart and soul, a true celebration of the rich cultural tapestry that makes British Columbia such a special place.

I’ll see you there!