‘Festival of Stars’ featured in Bashaw

  • May. 4, 2011 3:31 p.m.

It’s that time of year when local and emerging artists get to strut their stuff at the ever-growing Bashaw Festival of Stars.

Audiences will enjoy everything from bluegrass to country classics to gospel-oriented styles on the Bashaw Agricultural Grounds May 20-22.

Folks are invited to bring along their lawn chairs.

Things kick off Friday at 1 p.m. Hours for Saturday and Sundays’ entertainment are from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

From its inception, the Bashaw Festival of Stars has had no problem attracting reams of performers excited to take part, said manager Ron Shantz.

“We have performers from all over Alberta,” he said, adding that although there are some repeat performers from year to year, the emphasis is on shining the spotlight on a new batch of arts each year.

This year’s performers include the Keister Family Fiddlers, Jamie Kennedy, Lyndon Nystrom, Chris Walsh, Judy Mazurek, the Larsgaard Family, and Sentimental Journey.

Another highlight will be a performance by the Edmonton-based bluegrass band Woodbend. Offering a charming blend of both traditional and contemporary styles of bluegrass, the band brings a wealth of experience to the stage.

The band consists of guitarist Les Eberhardt, banjo and dobro player Ron Mercer, mandolinist Jessi Jo Charles, bassist Jean Coates and fiddler Terry Lawson. Top the musical strengths with three, four and sometimes five-part vocal harmonies, and it’s a sound that audiences describe as difficult to forget.

They have two recordings to their credit – All For You and Hank’s Old Mandolin. The band describes it as offering listeners a comparatively different listening experience from their first disc, with some country and ‘blues’ grass surfacing throughout the mix.

Also set to perform at The Western Sunsetters, who specialize in classic country, music of the 1950s/60s, and ‘old tyme’ tunes.

Original members include Brian Maetche (bass/guitar/harmony and lead vocals), Jim Cunningham (lap steel/slide guitar/harmony and lead vocals), Patti Bauer (guitar/bantar/bass/lead vocals), Trish Basile (piano/vocals), and Liz Anhorn (piano/accordion/guitar/harmony vocals).

The Western Sunsetters began playing at jamborees back in 2004 when they attended the Old Tyme Music and Dance Jamboree which was then held in Torrington. In 2007 the group ventured into Gospel music under the name All 4 Given, and just recently played for their second year at the Family Gospel Jubilee which is held the first weekend of May in Eckville.

They recorded their first CD titled Our Classic Country Collection in September 2007.

For his part, Shantz is thrilled with how this year’s line-up has turned out. The event has grown to the point that he can’t accommodate all the artists that would like to be included. But giving emerging young singers/performers a stage to share their skills is always a fulfilling venture, he says.

“I love it,” he says, adding it’s a treat to see new artists in particular have a stage to present their artistic personalities. And there’s no doubt the event is catching on – the fan base continues to flourish.

“Last year, we had about 450 people.”

Admission to the Bashaw Festival of Stars is as follows – Friday ($20), Saturday and Sunday ($25). The weekend special price is $55.

For more information, call 780-372-3087.