Word of the Blueberry Jam Music Gathering seems to have spread far and wide.
More than 50 acts and over 100 individual musicians have already agreed to perform at this year’s event.
“That’s a huge amount, more than where we were last year at this time. Last year at this time, we were about maybe 15,” said Mark Kolt, head of production for this summer’s event.
“It’s a different situation in that we’ve got a whole network of people who played last year and people started asking to be on the program a lot earlier.”
Paramount to that increase is the number of out-of-town performers. Kolt said there has been a sizable increase in musicians from outside of Flin Flon interested in playing at the festival this summer. More than 30 of the confirmed musicians are from outside the city.
“Certainly, there are quite a few performers coming from The Pas, Swan River, people who don’t necessarily have a connection to Flin Flon, but who enjoy the idea of coming here and playing in front of a large, appreciative crowd with good sound and technical support. It’s something that they really look forward to,” said Kolt.
Some have family connections to the area and see the show as a chance to catch up with old friends and long-lost relatives. Kolt mentioned the spiritual predecessor to Blueberry Jam, the Tennent’s Musician’s Reunion near Naicam, Sask., as an example of how an event can celebrate deep local ties and expand with them.
“There is a bit of a reunion aspect to it. I don’t know. I look at what happened with Tennent’s their first year. They had 30 people. By the end of it, once they’d been at it for 25 years, they had thousands of people coming. I guess we were able to jump-start things,” said Kolt.
“I think over the course of time, you’d find some people who are like us, who want to come just to be a part of something big. Certainly for folks coming from Swan River or The Pas, that’s their motivation. They’re here because they expect to have a good time.”
The festival will also feature more diverse acts than its first incarnation last summer. Hip hop, blues, folk, rock ‘n’ roll, vocal jazz and other genres will be represented, along with an increase in First Nations acts.
“The fact that we’re all there for the music is really cool. You develop some working relationships that are great and things can blossom out of that,” Kolt said.
“The party justifies itself.”