B.C. and Canadian-infused lineup to launch Constellation Festival

Inaugural three-day event comes to Squamish July 26 to 28

Years ago, Sam Lynch was in the crowd at the Squamish Valley Music Festival. Now, she's returning to Squamish, this time on stage at the Constellation Festival.

"It's kind of surreal to know I'll be playing music in a similar atmosphere, when I think back to the shows I saw in that space and how inspiring it was," Lynch said. "It's a cool full-circle moment for me."

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She's been touring for two years, across North America and overseas in Europe. The Surrey-raised, Burnaby-based musician has played for much longer, and after flowing between instruments, has settled more or less on vocals and guitar.

"My music is emotionally-fuelled indie-folk," she said. And there will be new material to enjoy at her performance since she is dropping more original music this month.

Lynch is just one of the mostly B.C. performers that are inspiring the homegrown feel of Squamish's newest festival.

Set to be much smaller than the former Squamish Valley Music Festival of years past, the inaugural three-day musical gathering aims to cater more to locals, with smaller venues and their bar of local craft beer, cider and spirits, according to Tamara Stanners, one of the festival's organizers.

All of the acts invited to the stage are from Canada.

"We felt that, here, on the south coast and Sea to Sky, there really wasn't a multi-genre festival still going. We wanted to fill that void," Stanners told The Chief.

The organizers coveted artists who may be less on the radar, someone festival-goers "would fall in love with when they were at the festival," Stanners said.

"We weren't thinking in nationality when we were going out and booking the artists — and know for future years we'll be going worldwide in our quest to find really awesome bands — but this year, just due to scheduling and the rest of it, it worked out beautifully being all Canadian."

Stanners describes the lineup with an infectious excitement, talking about the diverse range of music, featuring First Nations influences to surf-reggae to hip-hop.

"We kind of are covering all sorts of the planet, even though everybody is Canadian."

The headliners — Bahamas, Serena Ryder and Jessie Reyez — all have Canadian roots. Then there's the B.C. crowd. Luca Fogale — a singer-songwriter making a mark in Britain — has a voice "like velvety butter," Stanners said.

Art D'ecco hails from Vancouver and Vancouver Island, and for this band, Stanners says she can't describe them aside from a Bowie-esque 1980s vibe. Parker Bossley, a solo artist, is a "total rockstar."

The lead singer of Dear Rouge makes her own outfits, making her at home in 'crafty' Squamish. Deep Cove's Peach Pit are indie favourites with a soft surf sound. The brand-new Sunset Kids, Stanners said, are bubbling up from Vancouver. Squamish's own Cat Madden will also perform.

"The thing about Squamish," Stanners said, "is the people are incredibly cool. I think it attracts a sort of person who is adventurous and loves the outdoors and the real community vibe. The music, 100 per cent, reflects that."

From dancing to laid-back vibes and family-geared performances, Stanners said there will be something for everyone.

While Stanners can't choose which day of the three-day fest is her favourite, she recommends Saturday's songwriters' circle. From 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., the Squamish Arts Council, Music B.C. and Creative B.C. are helping put on the brunch of sorts. It will feature a behind-the-music glance with Jocelyn Alice, a multi-platinum singer-songwriter from Calgary with multiple awards, Sarah MacDougall and Peach Pit.

"For people who love music and love where it comes from, it's going to be this really cool insight into how the creative brain works," Stanners said.

"I believe whole-heartedly in our local music scene, and we just really want to support it."

Find tickets and more information at www.constellationfest.ca.

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