Blueberry Jam organizers overwhelmed by musician sign-ups

So many musicians have offered to play at next year’s Blueberry Jam Music Gathering that organizers have already suspended - temporarily, at least - accepting more acts.

“It’s something that is very flattering, that there’s that level of interest and commitment, that people would start coming out this early,” said Mark Kolt, chief scheduler and production chair for Blueberry Jam.

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Between 80 and 85 acts have applied to play at this summer’s event, scheduled for August 6-9. That number is higher than the number of acts that performed at last year’s Jam. Interested acts who haven’t applied will be put on a waiting list, but Kolt said those on the list will stand a good chance of getting performance time.

“It’s a temporary suspension only while we sort of process how we’re going to deal with things. We don’t want anybody to feel like they’ve been frozen out because that really doesn’t look like the way it’s shaking out,” he said.

Having more musicians and more out of town acts last year raised some questions for organizers - what if the bands and musicians from outside Flin Flon didn’t want to come back?

As it turns out, those concerns were trivial.

“We thought that the smart thing would be to start getting feelers out around November,  then over Christmas I did a big set of messages and emails for acts who had participated in the past and asked ‘Are you thinking of doing it again this year?’” said Kolt.

“The response was very positive. There have been some people who emerged who were entirely new, who have not been part of the first two years. Between them and the ones from prior years who have announced their intention to participate again, we got up to around 80.”

To accommodate the influx of new musicians, Kolt said some Blueberry Jam subcommittees are considering adding another stage to this year’s event, playing four stages instead of last year’s three.

“On the whole, the sense was trying to make an extra stage work, rather than trying to cut people off or reduce the amount of time for acts. That seems to be the preference,” Kolt said, adding that no final decision on that has been made.

“It’s certainly known within the committee for some time now that we’ve been playing with the possibility of developing a stage in front of the [Flin Flon Station Museum]. The fourth stage could be at Johnny’s Social Club, like last year, or it could be somewhere else. We’re sort of discussing whether we should do something at Pioneer Square or the Rotary Wheel or at the Victoria Inn, even the Chicken Chef parking lot - they ran a Blueberry Jam event there last year.”

Planning for venues was hazy for a time late last year, without a firm idea of who would end up performing or how many people could hit the stage. With firm numbers in hand earlier this year, Kolt says the idea of a fourth stage has heated up.

“It was difficult talking about four stages with any sense of certainty. Now, we’ve got the numbers and I think that without doing anything special, we could probably come in at 100 acts this summer if we keep accepting all comers.”

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