The Kluane Mountain Bluegrass Festival (KMBF) has an unfair advantage. It has never had to work to attract world-class performing acts and is known widely on the festival circuit as “the one to play.”
The performers, awestruck by the St. Elias range and the beautiful community of Haines Junction, are grateful for the warm reception they receive. They remind attendees every year how special the Kluane mountains are and what an incredible event KMBF has become. The 16th annual festival will take place in Haines Junction from June 7 to 9, with a performer lineup featuring acts from south of the border and southern Canada as well as the deep pool of northern talent. This year’s headlining acts are a sort of “best of the fests.”
The Claire Lynch Band, Breaking Grass, and Frank Solivan and Dirty Kitchen have all been festival favourites in previous years. The northern performers are a wonderful complement of seasoned veterans and emerging stars including Annie Lou, Ryan McNally and the Messarounders, and The Lucky Ones. Meal Ticket, Petunia and The Small Glories round out the fantastic lineup.
The festival organizing board has welcomed a new cohort of directors this year, mixing fresh energy with experience. The board hired Selene Vakharia as the 2019 festival producer. (That role had previously been driven by volunteer fuel.) The team has also worked very closely with the village of Haines Junction to strengthen the event’s roots in the community, by implementing a number of suggestions from local businesses and residents. The traditions continue this year, with a top-tier performance menu garnished with acoustic instruments and singing workshops, the Saturday night Family Barn Dance and the always breathtaking Sunday Gospel Show at St. Christopher’s Church. New this year is a flexpass ticket option. Buyers can share this bundle of day passes with friends and family. There will also be a roving musical group, Meal Ticket, performing and leading jam sessions around the village at businesses and public areas. The board has welcomed increased sponsorship from local businesses and hopes to return business through increased local business promotion.
Participation in the music is trademark. The jams begin on the grass in the morning, roll through midday on the grounds and the shade of the campgrounds and RV parks, and then go on strong under the midnight sun. The Festival Showcase will once again offer a chance for any group to audition a couple of songs, with the winners earning a performance slot at KMBF 2020.
Anyone who has attended knows that the Kluane Mountain Bluegrass Festival is so much more than the sum of these parts, and even so much more than just bluegrass. As with other years, this year’s lineup features offerings from across the acoustic music spectrum, including acoustic folk and blues, old time, ‘newgrass’ and straight-ahead country. The collection of performers is always curated to ensure that the audience is treated to performances anchored by a focus on the music, with soaring harmonies and astonishing instrumentals. Combine this festival hallmark with the magical backdrop of Haines Junction, the cozy surroundings and the endless opportunities to join in the music, and you have a magic that creates lasting memories.
If you have yet to come under the music, mountains and magic spell of the Kluane Mountain Bluegrass Festival, be prepared for a weekend that will change the way you experience music forever. If you are coming back to join us, well, you already know what we’re talking about.
The festival kicks off at 7 p.m. on Friday, June 7 and runs through until suppertime on Sunday, June 9. This year’s festival has been sold out since late April, but several free events are open to the public, so plan to make the trip to the Junction and join us!
More information about KMBF, including the full artist lineup, schedule, volunteer opportunities, and camping and accommodation options are available on the Festival website at YukonBluegrass.com.