The official opening on July 1 of a newly constructed stage in Sechelt’s Hackett Park launched a summer-long series of public musical performances at the outdoor venue.
A weekend double bill by trans-Canada troubadours The Empty Streets and the blues-and-gospel group The Georgia Fats led nine scheduled shows set for Saturday afternoons in July and August. The two-hour performances begin at noon.
On Aug. 13, a special concert will serenade the Hackett Park Artisan Fair.
The live shows represent a full return to the District of Sechelt’s annual program of plein-air music.
In 2020, according to Sechelt arts and culture coordinator Siobhán Smith, the district council approved a plan to sustain the series using recorded video. To comply with COVID-19 health restrictions, musical acts were recorded in a local backyard and edited for distribution online.
In 2021, to minimize the spread of COVID, District staff limited crowd sizes at a modest location near the Sechelt Public Library.
“This year, we’re back at it with a brand-new stage, and we’re super excited to have this gorgeous new facility in our park,” said Smith. “I was there [on the July 1 weekend] and casually asking the musicians how it was going. They were really pleased with the sound quality in the stage — and the setting. I noticed that people are lingering longer because they have so much more seating space and kids can just run around and have fun while the parents enjoy the show.”
Professional entertainment producer Marco Noni is managing the 2022 concert series, as longtime producer Ross Powell steps away to pursue other projects.
The lineup includes a strong infusion of Sunshine Coast talent. On July 9, The Van Aldens, a bluesy fixture of the Roberts Creek Legion, will follow a performance by Juno nominee and Sechelt roots songstress Janet Panic.
Other groups performing in July include The Locals, the Soleil Duo, Brothers in Farms, Michael Friedman, and Ya Ya Shine.
A July 23 appearance by Ecko Aleck, performing under the banner SacRED, will feature Aleck’s brothers from the shíshálh Nation for a collaborative performance that celebrates Indigenous history and resilience.
In August, Latin-Jazz powerhouse Susana Williams performs in addition to the Mitch Lazer Quintet, Argentina-born Guillermo Martinez, the Anagram Quartet headed up by Anna Lumiere and Graham Ord, soul and world music collective The Budge Schachte Group, and the Jamaican-saturated Monty Montego and the Rocksteady Crew.
Through Sechelt Council’s financial backing, each performer receives an honorarium, while the series producer and locally-sourced sound engineer are also compensated “equitably,” according to Smith.
Sechelt’s spectrum of culture offerings this summer also includes original street banners designed by local artists. Manuela Salinas, an Indigenous painter and educator, created an artwork titled Towards Freedom that can now be seen along Cowrie Street. Artist Ali Casey involved ten youths and Elders in design workshops for shíshálh Nation members. Those banners, on Casey’s theme of Oceans, Above and Below, are arrayed along Dolphin Street.
Full event listings for the Sechelt Summer Music Series are available online at sechelt.ca/musicseries.