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The annual Sooke River Bluegrass Festival celebrates Father’s Day with a foot-stomping weekend combining everything blue. Bluegrass, blue skies and blue water.

Did you know it's hip to square dance? Read more.

Less than an hour west of Victoria B.C., the Sooke Bluegrass Festival is held annually at the Sooke River Campground. Bring your lawn chairs and picnic blankets to casually listen to over 20 acts that take to the open-air stage.

The weekend kicks off on Friday night with the Sweet Lowdown taking the stage at 7:00 p.m. By the time things wrap up on Sunday afternoon you’ll have had a chance to enjoy some pretty sweet bluegrass on stage, in workshops and in jam sessions that pop up in the craziest places.

Bring a swim suit and check out the Sooke Potholes Regional Park on the Sooke River. The river meanders around polished boulders that have created pockets of private swimming holes.

Or, maybe just skips some rocks into the Juan de Fuca Straight as you stroll a quiet beach. Check out the harbour seals as they slip through the moored boats at the harbour or wander through town to enjoy the “Catch of the Day” at one of the local restaurants.

But don’t forget what you came for. The Sooke Bluegrass Festival has a lineup of artists you won’t want to miss. Take a look at some of the headliners coming from as close as Victoria and from across the continent, then plan your weekend of bluegrass with a sprinkling of ocean front activities.

Featured artists

John Reischman & The Pine Siskins

The Pine Siskins is a group John Reischman assembled to perform the music from his 2013 solo CD, “Walk Along John”. The all-instrumental recording includes nine John Reischman originals, a few hand-picked traditional tunes, and a remake of the very first tune John wrote.

Tom Terrell

Tom Terrell is celebrating his debut, self titled album; a record of beautiful blue songs, written through the seeing eyes of the archetypal rambler. Terrell sings, all gravel and gravity, in a style reminiscent of the vintage voices of the past. Well versed in Old time, country, blues, bluegrass and in turn an array of folk music, Terrell’s influences range from Tom Waits, John Prine & Greg Brown to Hank Williams, Mississippi John Hurt, Oscar Peterson and Beethoven

Twin Bandit

Twin Bandit is Hannah Walker and Jamie Elliott. Together they bring you an intimate folk/roots performance with strong harmonies & original songs.

Wellesley Station

The fiddle and banjo are at the heart of Old Time music, and Wellesley Station use that as the starting point for their explorations of this timeless tradition. Focussing on the beauty of melodies honed by countless hands, banjoist *Nick Hornbuckle*, fiddler *Miriam Sonstenes*, and bassist *Patrick Metzger* create a unique interpretation that is at once haunting,
wistful, irreverent and joyful.

Garrett Tompson Band

Garrett has been an active member of the Victoria bluegrass scene for many years, playing with several bands and guesting with a few more. In 2009, he was the recipient of the VBA bursary to the BC Bluegrass Workshop. He is a fine picker and a terrific singer, and it is a pleasure to have this talented musician appear on the VBA stage as the leader of his own band.

Sarah Jane Scouten

Based in Montreal, Sarah Jane became the leader of one of the finest folk acts in the city, as she put together her brilliant string band. With flavours of Lucinda Williams, Iris DeMent, Old Crow Medicine Show and a wealth of old-time and bluegrass music, her songs are faithful to a long-standing folk music tradition, but often spill over into modern themes that are outspoken and edgy, from homelessness to midwifery to tongue-in-cheek heartache songs and unabashed Canadiana.

Clover Point Drifters

The Clover Point Drifters are a bluegrass band from Victoria BC Canada. Their repertoire consists primarily of traditional bluegrass songs, with a sprinkling of country, folk, blues and pop melodies served up in the bluegrass style. Their songs feature close heartfelt duet and trio harmonies, backed by strong banjo, dobro and mandolin accompaniment.

Riverside Bluegrass Band

Once again the course of the River has changed, and with that, comes a change with the Riverside.Our dear friend Angus MacKenzie is moving to the east coast. Fortunately, Jeff Dill has stepped up and become a member of the Riverside Bluegrass Band. His excellent vocals and guitar playing will certainly add to the overall sound of the Riverside Bluegrass Band. We are certain everyone will enjoy this fresh sound!

Big Top Square Dance

This year, it’s the fourth annual Big Top Square Dance. Beginner friendly,following the long-held tradition that every dance is taught on the spot. A square is made up of four couples, and your partner can be anyone, just ask someone to dance! So come one, come all, and square your sets at the 2016 Sooke River Bluegrass Festival.

Tickets/Admission

A full weekend pass is $50, Friday evening pass is $20, Saturday all day is $30, Sunday is $10.

Tents, RVs or campers are all welcome at the campground. Camping is not included in the ticket prices.

More information

  • Read our FestivalSeekers story and discover why its “hip to be square" at the Sooke Blues Fest  

  • Why not make it a road trip around Vancouver Island, check out this story on the Victoria Jazz Festival happening around the same time 

  • Get more details on the Sooke River Bluegrass Festival

  • Discover more about B.C. Check out HelloBC or plan an island road trip. 

Like to groove to the sweet sounds of bluegrass? Share this festival with your music-loving friends.