Shara Gustafson of Mamaguroove wowed the Saturday crowd at MoM.

Shara Gustafson of Mamaguroove wowed the Saturday crowd at MoM.

Music on the Mountain rocks Fort St. James

It was a whirlwind weekend of music at Murray Ridge during Music on the Mountain.

It was a whirlwind weekend of music at Murray Ridge during Music on the Mountain.

The festival had about double the attendance of last year, according to organizer Lionel Conant, with final counts still being tallied and coins being counted.

Conant estimated there were a total of 400-500 people in attendance all together, including volunteers and artists, with about 300 of those paid, including sponsor tickets.

While the event still did not break even, Conant called the deficit “minimal” and expects to be able to make up the difference with some other musical fundraisers throughout the year.

CBC and CFIS helped out a lot this year in raising awareness, said Conant, but the festival will build over time as people  talk about their experiences.

“This biggest thing is word of mouth,” said Conant.

One musician told Conant while he had been touring all summer, the best time the musician had so far was at MoM.

In one interesting story, a family all the way from the Yukon was on vacation in the area and happened upon the festival by accident last year, after seeing a poster. This year, they planned their vacation so they could return to the area and take in the festival again.

The energy at the event was upbeat and some people even toughed out the rain on Sunday to catch the final acts.

There were a huge number of musicians, some of which seemed to meld together, as many members of various groups would join their fellow musicians on stage to add to the creative musical energy.

With a broad range of music and musical styles from folk, to rock, to funk and world music, it was a bit of everything for everyone.

Stand-out acts included the Boogie Patrol,  a group Conant described as “that awesome young blues band from Edmonton.” The young-looking front man had an incredibly rich and sexy voice far beyond his years, and was backed up by an amazing depth of talented musicians who really got the crowd moving.

Conant was also impressed by the young group from Hazelton, Blind Vinyl. The group put out a set of hard bluesy-rock.

Local talents Susu Robin and Jerusha Turgeon also seemed to create a bit of buzz. Susu Robin may not have been the piano-playing young woman the locals remembered from before, but her beautiful voice and unique lyrics accompanied by a ukelele got a few people talking, with more than one audience member remarking within earshot how talented she was.

But with too many acts to describe, one more musician deserves a special mention, with every single member of the audience seemingly blown away.

The musician was Bulat, and his world-music made from a wild and bizarre collection of unique instruments was truly breathtaking.

The range of sound the Russian-born artist could create with simple instruments and throat-singing left a lasting mark for most of the audience. Since his performance, when his name is mentioned, not one person has not gone on to rave about what they heard.

There was also a range of incredible wares for sale, with beautiful local woodturning from Cluculz Lake, unique “up-cycled”  one-of-a-kind clothing, and all manner of wonderful imported items, mostly from Asia.

The food was equally as impressive, with Vicky Murphy and Paula Scott from the Funky Wok putting on incredible fare for the hospitality kitchen to serve the artists and volunteers and the Nomad’s Kitchen cooking up everything from a uniquely delicious Phillippine chicken dish people were raving about all weekend, to burgers made with Canyon Tree Farms’ local beef. While there were some hitches in the chai tea production for the first day and a half, it was well worth the wait when it was ready, and the espresso coffee was fantastic.

The 12 Katimavik volunteers who came from Prince George were quite enthusiastic about their experience at the festival.

The group is always looking for opportunities to volunteer and one member of their group heard about the festival through a friend in Prince George and the group jumped at the chance to take in a festival. They helped out at all aspects of the festival, manning the gate, doing security, working in the kitchen and selling the musicians’ merchandise. The volunteers hail from far and wide across the country,  including Quebec, Nova Scotia, Manitoba, Alberta and Ontario.

They met a lot of people and “it was a really good experience,” said Kelly Richards, one of the group.

With only a quick rain shower on Saturday, the weather cooperated for most of the three days of musical acts, and there was something for everyone at the event, especially the kids.

The sand box full of toys was one attraction for the youth, but many simply enjoyed the action of getting to play amongst themselves, with toys, music and so many other children, there was always something to do. Glow sticks were a big hit as well once the dark set in, and there were all manner of adornment with the lights being made, from bracelets to belts to glasses, making it easier for parents to spot their kids in the darkening crowd.

There were no serious security issues, with the RCMP also having a presence on site for much of the evening performances.

One audience member became a bit overly enthusiastic and was escorted away by the RCMP for the night, the only exception to an otherwise smooth weekend of entertainment.