No sooner had the 10th annual Gibsons Landing Jazz Festival packed away its tents and equipment than organizer Linda Williams was promoting the next event: Music in the Landing.
"Never a dull moment," she wrote in an email to the many fans of local music.
The free concerts, held outdoors in Lower Gibsons, have been running for the past three summers. They now draw a band of regulars who know enough to bring their own lawn chairs, purchase their ice cream in advance at the store and sit back to enjoy the all-Coast talent. Late June's program opened with a performance from the Knotty Dotters, a marimba group, and the reggae sounds of Randeesh. The Sunday performance featured the contemporary Celtic group Fiona Dhu with Diana Halter on harp and vocals.
Williams, along with musician Graham Walker, runs the program and signs up the acts.
"I've almost got this season booked," she says. "Saturdays are full up."
The program does not run during other events such as the Outrigger Canoe Races, July 8 to 10, and Sea Cavalcade, July 22 to 24.
Music in the Landing began one evening three years ago when a Gibsons man heard a young piper, Erin Macdonald, playing the bagpipes in the gazebo at Gibsons wharf. The haunting sound touched something within him, and he decided to offer the Town of Gibsons the funding necessary to pay for other musical events all summer long. His identity was to remain anonymous, which was the case for the first two years. We now know him as the "lost Canadian," Don Chapman. The town liked the idea but decided the programming couldn't be done on a volunteer basis; they sought a paid co-ordinator, someone with ability in booking and promoting musicians, assisting them in set up and take down and mopping their brows, if necessary.
Williams has had lots of experience in this department. She moved to the Coast nine years ago after helping out at the Vancouver Jazz Festival for many years. At first, she thought she would miss out on the big city festival by living on the Coast. Then she found that Walker had come up with a hit idea when he held a jazz show in Gibsons' Dougall Park in 1995. She jumped in to help, and the Gibsons Landing Jazz Festival was born. She and Walker continue to work together on many performance projects, including Music in the Landing. Funds provided by the donor go toward paying the musicians. That fact alone relieves stress on the organizer, says Williams, the kind of stress that she usually feels during the jazz festival when she worries whether the door's receipts will be sufficient. The organizers have sought sponsors who can pay for newspaper advertising, and Williams spends much of her own time in promoting events. She is often spotted at concerts moving through the audience taking photographs. She quickly embraced the trend toward digital cameras and has since created galleries of photos for use in promoting musicians on websites of her own design. "I like to take pictures of them with their instruments actually doing their craft," she says. "It's important that the pictures show them liking what they do." Williams is particularly happy to showcase younger musicians in their efforts. Music in the Landing usually features youth on the last weekend before Labour Day.
Last year, Punk in the Park gave teens and their parents a chance to hear some contemporary music. This year kids seven years old and up will be featured at an Aug. 28 performance. Other highlights will include appearances from Brazilian guitarist Celso Machado and Joe Stanton and his band. Sunday afternoons from 12:30 to 2 p.m. will regularly feature music at the gazebo. She expects that the sound will waft pleasantly over the town in much the same way as that first bagpipe session three years ago.