A positive, family-friendly music festival

It seems that the busier Gary Bailie gets, the happier he is.

The producer of the annual Blue Feather Music Festival 2009 receives every new task as proof that this ninth, annual event is coming together bigger and better than last year.

There are actually more details than he knows about, which is why he is glad that he has a very active board: “It’s a team effort,” he says over coffee. “I’m really honoured to have these people to work with.

“Each director is directly involved and has unique skills.”

Take, for instance, Lancelot Burton: one of his skills is graphic design. He came up with a logo that reflects the theme this year: “Love Conquers All”.

“Because it does,” Bailie says, answering the unasked question. “It’s an energy that really makes the world a better place.”

He says a positive theme is chosen each year. Next year, celebrating its 10th anniversary, the theme will be “A Decade of Dedication”.

“It’ll be bigger and better,” says Bailie. He pauses, and then, “But we strive to do that every year.”

This year’s lineup is an example of that, he says. Headlining on Friday night, Nov. 6, will be The Twisters, featuring Yukon favourite son, Brandon Isaak, on guitar and vocals.

“The Twisters were named one of the top-three blues bands in the world,” says Bailie. “They’ve been bringing the house down in Europe.”

The headliner on Saturday night will be Sierra Noble. The fiddle-playing, step-dancing Métis performer from Winnipeg has been enjoying more and more success since she was last here, on Blue Feather’s stage in 2007.

“This is where she debuted her singing,” says Bailie. “Up until then, she had only played fiddle. Now she has a big hit with Possibility.” It has reached the Top 40 with Country Music Television.

Noble will be flying in that morning, fresh from performing at the Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards.

While onstage at the Yukon Arts Centre, she will lead a jam of fiddlers, young and old. “We’ll see who shows up,” says Bailie.

Also performing on the Saturday night will be Rising Sun (a local women’s drumming and singing group), Kim Beggs, Sophisticated Cavemen – and Northern Lights Dance will appear, too.

Friday night will see more rock and roll as Say No More and CHS perform. As well, Jerry Alfred will appear.

Special guests during the weekend include Danette Readman, Jonah Barr and Groundworks Session Crew.

As wonderful as Bailie believes the performances will be, he reminds that the purpose of this annual event is to give young people opportunities to perform and assist with the production.

There are learning opportunities with lighting, food preparation, audio, stage management and stage/set design.

As an annual event, Bailie is seeing young people develop from year to year. For instance, Jenelle Cousins is back for a third year to handle the lighting for Sierra Noble. Two years ago, she had shown an interest; last year, she worked with Bailie, a lighting designer, himself.

Then there is Michael Hamm. He started five or six years ago on the stage crew. This year, he is the stage manager.

“So, dedication grows fruit,” says Bailie.

Back in the kitchen, young people are learning how to prepare such traditional foods as moose stew and bannock, salmon chowder and vegetables and to serve.

“We strive to find the best food,” says Bailie. “It is just down-to-earth good food.”

But, after the intermission, the desserts come out.

And no alcohol, says Bailie. “This is a family event.”

On each evening, Friday and Saturday, Nov. 6 and 7, the Yukon Arts Centre doors open at 6 p.m. and the feasts begin at 6:30 p.m. The shows start at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets are available at the YAC Box Office and Arts Underground.

A silent auction will also be held, featuring arts, crafts and products from many artists and businesses.

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