Rock of the Woods focuses north

Dave Bain is not the type who talks about “positive vibes,” but even he can’t help it when he discusses Rock of the Woods music festival.

Dave Bain is not the type who talks about “positive vibes,” but even he can’t help it when he discusses this year’s upcoming Rock of the Woods music festival.

“I can definitely tell you there is a positive vibe to the festival,” he said.

It is scheduled for July 21-24 this year.

Struggles to lock up the festival site in Sahtlam exhausted the Rock of the Woods team, but they came back determined to make the event better than ever. To that end, they have increased the festival’s focus on the Cowichan Valley and the rest of the Island north of the Malahat.

“We want to shine a better light on what the Valley has been in the past,” Bain said.

New to the festival this year are naturalist walks, which will take place three times a day, discussing the ecosystem in the Cowichan Valley and what makes it unique.

“We are proud of the Valley and its natural features,” Bain said. “We want to show it off to anyone who will listen.”

There are more games this year, including grass volleyball, and karaoke between band sets.

“I’m excited about it,” Bain said.

Of course, the focus of the festival remains on the music, and that area has expanded as well.

“We have way more bands than ever before,” Bain said.

Many of those bands come from north of the Malahat, which was a conscious decision.

“A lot of them would never get exposure like that,” Bain explained.

Headlining the festival are Bit Funk, a Brooklyn-based DJ and producer that the EDM crowd is excited about, and Five Alarm Funk, a nine-piece Vancouver band that fuses multiple genres.

“They will come and feed off the crowd. They go in and out of instrumental stuff.”

Other highlights include the electronic pop of Vancouver’s Bear Mountain, singer-songwriters Vince Vaccaro and Sam Weber, and Beyries, an eclectic and versatile vocalist from Montreal.

Also intriguing is The Choir, a 100-person vocal ensemble from Victoria that performs indie, folk and pop covers like you’ve never heard before. The Choir’s cover of Radiohead’s Black Star, which can be found on YouTube, is an example of their work.

“That should be a lot of fun. It will be a nice way to round out the weekend.”

Between the music and non-music entertainment, Bain is hoping to appeal to a wide range of festival-goers.

“We’ve definitely tried to make it as diverse as possible and still fun,” he said. “There will be something for everyone, but at the same time, they can come not knowing any of the artists and still be able to enjoy it.”

The festival will benefit the Oswego Arts and Cultural Society’s student bursary for arts and culture in the Cowichan Valley, which will be launched this fall.

“If the Valley gets behind it, it will be a cool thing,” Bain said.

Tickets for Rock of the Woods can be bought for the full festival or single days, both with and without camping.

Get them at Duncan Music and Mill Bay Pizza, in Victoria at Lyle’s Place, in Nanaimo at Lucid Records, and online at Ticketzone.com. Visit rockofthewoods.com for more information.