Prince George’s Coldsnap has earned a reputation as a preeminent Canadian music festival not just for the winter, but in any season. Why is it such a special event?
I think that we cannot discount the importance of the fact that Coldsnap takes place in winter. I think it has something to do with the feeling you get as you hear the sound of live music cutting through the stillness of a snowy winter night as you walk up to a music venue… In northern BC, our environment informs so many of our experiences, so having a music festival in wintertime sets up both the performers and audience for a unique musical experience. Because Coldsnap takes place over nine days and nights, we have the opportunity to present a wide variety of musical genres, and our Artistic Director, Sue Judge, does an amazing job of programming the flow of the festival. Coldsnap also showcases the visiting artists in more intimate venues, and there is always a real, palpable connection between the artist and the audience. It is part of Coldsnap’s mandate to bring in artists that would otherwise not come to northern BC, and many of the performers are experiencing our unique northern BC hospitality for the first time, so there is a real exchange of graciousness between the artist and the audience. This is particularly the case during our free community outreach workshops that take place during the day throughout the festival, where our mainstage musicians play in different community venues such as centres for youth at risk, the Seniors Centre or for the international students at the college. I’d say that what makes Coldsnap so special is the real, genuine connections between environment, artist and audience.
Coldsnap presents shows in different locations around Prince George. Can you tell us a little bit about the venues?
Several of our mainstage concerts take place at the Prince George Playhouse, a 300-seat theatre-style venue. At the Playhouse, we work with an excellent local audio-visual production company, Russell A/V, and they help us to design gorgeous sets with cool lighting, and exceptional sound, of course. Our “dance” nights, like Celtic and World music nights, are typically at the Ramada Hotel Ballroom, where we have a large open dance floor for people to get their groove on! In 2017, we are changing things up by partnering with the City of Prince George and having our opening night concert as a free, outdoor concert in the Canada Games Plaza downtown! In February! We are also hosting our local/regional showcase nights at the Prince George Legion (Branch 43), which has recently seen a renaissance as a popular music venue in town, thanks to a local promoter, Mad Loon Entertainment. Finally, we are also shaking things up in 2017 by moving a couple of our shows to another new (to Coldsnap) venue, Fore Bistro. It is really important to Coldsnap to support locally owned businesses and community groups, so we are really excited about these new changes in 2017!
What is your role with the festival and how long have you been involved?
I am currently the Vice-Chair of the Prince George Folkfest Society (PGFFS), the organization that presents Coldsnap. While I have only been with PGFFS for about three-and-a-half years, I have been working in music administration in Canada, and briefly in the southern US, for the past twenty years. I am also the primary grant writer for PGFFS, and until recently, I held the role of Sponsorship Manager. Coldsnap was the focus of my capstone project on corporate sponsorship in nonprofit arts organizations while completing my Masters in Business Administration at the University of Northern British Columbia from 2013 to 2015. I am also a Coldsnap artist alumnus: my husband Paul (former frontman of the Juno-nominated alternative rock band, The Gandharvas) and I played at Coldsnap 2013 with our little acoustic rock band, Said Dog.
What are some of your favourite performances from past years? What are you looking forward to in 2017?
My favourite performance in recent years would be the David Myles and Royal Wood show during Coldsnap 2014. This was a concert that really epitomized that intimate connection between artist and audience that is so unique to Coldsnap. An audience member even came on stage and proposed to his then-girlfriend during David Myles’ set (spoiler alert: she said yes)! I also really enjoy the local/regional nights – we have some truly exceptional musicians in northern BC, and it’s fantastic to see them showcased.
Being a mom of young kids, I am excited about the low-cost children’s concert featuring The Kerplunks, which is also a new aspect of Coldsnap 2017. I believe that we are all born with natural musical instincts, and it’s so important to nurture that from a young age, so I am excited about bringing my little ones to this unique concert for kids!
I am most looking forward to the Kick-Off to Coldsnap free outdoor concert on the opening night of Coldsnap 2017. DJ Shub (formerly of A Tribe Called Red) is headlining, and I cannot wait to see 2,000 of my friends and neighbours from all walks of the northern BC community, coming together, dancing and celebrating music in the great outdoors in downtown Prince George on a winter night.