As we unpack those chunky knit sweaters in anticipation of the approaching fall season, we cannot help but hold onto the sweet, summer memories we made in 2021. Guerrilla Gigs took the spotlight in place of Street Fest for another season but with a different twist. With the goal of reaching a wider audience, we hosted two gigs per week in order to offer more music to the wider community. Looking back, we are proud of what we have accomplished and we are genuinely appreciative of everyone that helped us make this summer one to remember.
With the ever-changing adaptation of public health orders, we altered our original plan to host large-scale concerts on Saturday evenings in Queen Elizabeth park. Seeing audience sizes as large as 1,200 people it was a heartwarming sight. We were thankful to host concerts at the park for four Guerrilla Gigs until the parameters of social gatherings changed once again.
Although our last Saturday gig was back on an intimate scale in a secret location, we had opened the gates for an undeniable ‘community vibe’ that could be felt beyond the borders of QE park.
Here is the recap of our incredible season:
Nestled in a gorgeous backyard amongst the trees on airport way, the local rock outfit, Partial to Pie, kicked the season off with a high energy performance. The wind was blowing a storm through town that somehow missed us entirely. This show also included our first of two kid-friendly Guerrilla Gigs, unintentionally coined “Monkey Gigs” by the venue host. Throughout the audience, there was an abundance of little hula-hoopers and bubble wand enthusiasts. Excitement for the resuming of live music was apparent, both on stage and in the crowd!
Guerrilla Gig 2 – Shoestring Necktie
As we drove up to the Revelstoke Mountain Resort’s mid station lodge, we passed through a torrential downpour. This prompted a last-minute decision to move Shoestring Necktie’s set inside, however a few keen dancers took to the unused outdoor patio to cut a rug. The set was full of classic americana covers, warm harmonies, and soaring electric guitar solos! With the addition of three new members to last years original duo, the band filled the lodge with their bright & rejuvenating sound.
Guerrilla Gig 3 – Scenic Route to Alaska
Although the view from the stage wasn’t particularly Alaskan, it was certainly scenic! The Edmonton indie rock band played on Eagle Pass’ heli pad, sandwiched between the setting sun behind the Kootenays and the thick forest behind them. The band performed a wide range of sounds, from high-energy danceable beats to downtempo dreamy melodies. The venue graciously provided tacos and drinks during intermission, which accompanied the musical evening perfectly.
Guerrilla Gig 4 – Myra Morrison & Denis Severino
The first band without a drummer of the season performed at First Light Farms – a fitting venue for the local old-time band. The threat of rain had long-since disappeared, and instead the sky rained charred pine needles – which the band at one point mistook for mouse droppings. The duo swapped between countless instruments during the set of old time traditionals. You could see the attention to detail in their setlist, as they eagerly provided backstory for almost every song, whether it be explaining the deeper meaning of a song’s 100+ year old lyrics, or outlining the origins of the unique instruments they played. Plenty of heartfelt storytelling and stringed instrument mastery kept the crowd engaged the whole night! This was our second “Monkey Gig” sponsored by the Okanagan Library and the pint-sized audience could be spotted picking cherries and ripe raspberries from the surrounding abundance between songs.
Guerrilla Gig 5 – May Davis Trio
Fresh off her recent album release, local blues songwriter May Davis performed with a full band at the Revelstoke Railway Museum – the same location where her most recent music video was filmed! The musicianship and lyricism was sharp-witted and vulnerable, and everyone in the crowd could be seen tapping their toes to the rhythm. Following last year’s sprinkler incident at the same venue (see last year’s writeup with Celeigh Cardinal), there were many checks in place to ensure a water-less performance this time around. Though the train schedule is mysteriously unknown, Davis and her crowd were hardly bothered by the couple trains that passed – one conductor even obliging Davis’ gesture to hear the train whistle that startled the band!
Guerrilla Gig 6 – Pharis & Jason Romero
The Mulvehill Chapel offered an unexpected and much-welcomed sanctuary from the smoky skies surrounding Revelstoke. The quaint venue fit the warm and rich, romantic stylings of Pharis & Jason Romero. The effortless harmonies tucked the audience into bed, and the gentle intertwined strumming was like a kiss on the forehead. This venue location was the furthest from town, and was accompanied by a very long dirt road that caused some difficulties for our gear trailer on the way out. A huge thank you to the venue hosts for answering our tech team’s call for help upon getting stuck on the way out.
Guerrilla Gig 7 – Shred Kelly
To the joy of countless concertgoers, we got the go-ahead from the province and the city to host larger gatherings. Shred Kelly was the first of the five bands to perform a free show at Queen Elizabeth Park. While it was a little less intimate, it was no less special. That feeling of intimacy was replaced with pure joy, both on and off stage. The lead singer could be seen tearing up on stage as the world felt temporarily and strangely normal. The feeling was mutual among concertgoers; many were unsure how to act until a small child threw herself onto the dance floor during the first song. Her excitement was inspiring, and in no time the dance floor was packed with eager eyes and ear-to-ear smiles.
Guerrilla Gig 8 – Wyatt C. Louis
Performing for his first time in Revelstoke, Wyatt C. Louis took a detour down a road of understated soul tunes. His velvety-smooth vocals sat comfortably amidst the wickedly but subtly talented 5-piece band. Although the mountains were covered by a thick blanket of smoke, the Illecillewaet River cut through the background like the tenor saxophone cut through the mix. Louis made his versatility of styles apparent with a range of soft acoustic songs building up to full band soul jams and feel-good americana numbers.
Guerrilla Gig 9 – Harry Manx
The genre-blending legend Harry Manx played for an attentive and mystified audience at Queen Elizabeth Park. The enchanting mix of traditional Indian and blues music complimented his charmingly silly on-stage quips. Manx was outnumbered on stage by his wide variety of unconventional stringed instruments, which he explained and performed with both passion and mastery. In stark contrast to his mystical songwriting, his sense of humour was disarmingly whimsical. With fascinating ease, the seasoned musical veteran held the crowd lovingly in the palm of his hand the entire night.
Guerrilla Gig 10 – Chicken-Like Birds
The weather was significantly drier on our second visit to Revelstoke Mountain Resort – the hazy skies revealed only a silhouette of the mountain range across the valley. The Salmon Arm duo played a mix of americana, folk, old time, blues, and everything in between for an enthralled crowd. Their subtle tongue-in-cheek sense of humour came through in their playing as much as their stage banter. The performance felt authentic, as both members’ personalities shone through their entire set. The duo had a kind of magical cohesion, allowing their songs to ebb and flow with the on stage energy – a nuanced feat not easily obtained by most bands.
Guerrilla Gig 11 – Celeigh Cardinal
A returning favourite from last year, Celeigh Cardinal played for a relaxed picnic blanket-dwelling crowd at Queen Elizabeth Park. The weather was as moody as the Edmontonian’s smooth but powerful voice. With a loving but sharp attention to detail, Cardinal and her band serenaded an awe-struck crowd with beautifully written originals – along with a couple carefully curated covers. This was the band’s sophomore Guerrilla Gig appearance after their sold out show at the Railway Museum last year. The audience was enamoured, especially when Cardinal finished their encore with an awe-inspiring solo vocal performance of Joules Grave’s Grandmother’s Back.
When we first scouted the lonely, decommissioned flatbed truck sitting at the Revelstoke Forestry Museum, we began dreaming of ways to turn it into a stage. Small Town Artillery seemed to breathe life into the museum, as they turned the stationary truck into the centre of the party. The Kaslo 7-piece (accompanied by local rocker Aza Nabuko) had nearly the whole crowd bouncing on their feet all night. The flatbed had to be reinforced for the performance, as the band has been known to passionately rock out on stage – especially lead vocalist Tom Van Deursen. The double-decker stage did not so much as squirm during the entire set, as the band was their eagerly-anticipated high-energy selves.
Guerrilla Gig 13 – Moontricks
Although Queen Elizabeth Park saw many elated Revelstokian music fans over the summer, there was no denying the all-time high excitement for Moontricks. The turbulent sea of dancers was active all night, as the band played for 2 straight hours – electing not to take a break by popular request. The duo served up a perfectly crafted cocktail of electrified dance beats, tasteful banjo and guitar stylings, and topped off with a pinch of searing hot harmonica licks. This was one of our most anticipated gigs of the summer, and coincidentally had the largest turnout. While Shred Kelly had the privilege of shaking the winter dust off the dormant dancers, everyone was well warmed up for Moontricks; the dance floor was packed from start to finish!
As the smoke cleared up, the threat of rain resumed and the mosquitoes returned in droves. We decided to take shelter inside one of our favourite barns from last year. Under The Rocks performed with meticulous attention to detail, their harmonies hanging in the barn next to the gorgeous chandeliers. The quartet’s excitement to be performing again was palatable, as they opened with an original piece fittingly entitled Bluegrass Deprivation Blues. The bluegrass 4-piece captivated the audience, with no shortage of clapping, toe-tapping, and singalongs.
Guerrilla Gig 15 – Leila Neverland
Due to forces beyond our control, our final Queen Elizabeth Park show was significantly downsized and moved to a large clearing at the Revelstoke Forestry Museum. Leila Neverland and her band showed no bother, and ticket holders certainly did not mind receiving a more intimate performance. The level of musicianship was high, as Leila’s signature commanding voice left everyone in awe. Despite approximately 24 hours notice to move the free show from the park to a ticketed secret location (as well as forecasted rain while our big tent sat unused in QE park), our production team made the most of it. As we’ve learned over the last two years, they’re called Guerrilla Gigs for a reason!
Guerrilla Gig 16 – Jill Barber
Jill Barber wrapped up the series at a secluded backyard overlooking the Columbia River, neighbouring the location of our first gig of the season. Barber’s first set of freshly baked new songs had everyone tuned in, and her second set of favourites even drew a few dancers out of their cozy blanketed cocoons. Her charming songwriting was both relatable and inspiring. As the sun set behind the mountains and the air turned cool, Barber’s intimate and vulnerable performance offered warmth and comfort to all in attendance.
A mountain-sized thank you to our performers, sponsors, photographers, graphic artists, volunteers, and staff who made Guerrilla Gigs possible for the community. We appreciate you all more than words could say and we look forward to seeing you all on the dance floor again soon!
With genuine appreciation,