In his seventh year as Sea Festival entertainment co-ordinator, White Rock-South Surrey-raised guitarist and musical educator Jim Black takes pride in having established a continuity that is raising the profile of both Peninsula-based acts and performers who got their start here.
And even though he will be heading east for a one-year teacher education program at the University of Newfoundland starting in the fall, following up on the teaching degree he earned at UBC in September, Black said he’s decided he wants to make the Peninsula his home and continue to mentor musicians here.
“I’m calling it a sabbatical,” he said. “My girlfriend is from Newfoundland and she has family there, so it makes a lot of sense – but, hopefully, I’ll be back in time for my eighth Sea Festival.”
Black said that, while familiar, long-established acts are still prominent in the mix for the festival main stage this weekend, there will be plenty of opportunity for audiences to see youth bands and emerging talents as well, while noting the Semiahmoo First Nation will also be providing a program of children’s and family-oriented entertainment, including Korki the Clown at the Spirit Stage in Semiahmoo Park during the Sea Festival.
“Saturday still seems to be about baby boomers and blues and rock, for sure,” he said, noting the presence of such seasoned blues musicians on the main stage as noted jam organizer Glen Pearson and Jason Buie (artistic director of the White Rock Blues Society) during an afternoon that will be capped by the return of the Tom Lavin and the Legendary Powder Blues band in the Saturday night 8:30 p.m. top spot.
“We want to give an opportunity to the people who have been working year round – Glen and Jason are among the ones who have been doing the heavy lifting in the music business and we’re lucky to have them. And the Powder Blues, before the fireworks on Saturday have been, traditionally a slam-dunk – Tom puts on a rock show like few can on the west coast.”
But Black notes that even with more experienced performers the chance to foster young talent has proven important. A feature he and Buie have developed for the latter’s Sea Festival sets has been a segment allowing young “shredders” a chance to get up and demonstrate their guitar chops.
“I’m seeing many years of work with some of the White Rock area’s young artists paying off – they’re all coming into their own,” he said.
“The kids who got a break five years ago are all working in the festival, and they’ve started mentoring others.”
Thus young musicians Richard Tichelman and Curtis Heimburger have sets of their own (Heimburger, who has won a scholarship to the Berklee College of Music in Boston will be playing a jam with friends at 2:45 p.m. Saturday, while Tichelman will showcase his original songs at 3:30 p.m.), they will also serve as producers and coordinators of the stages for sections of both Saturday and Sunday, gleaning valuable experience in the process.
Tichelman, who Black has mentored and currently teaches guitar, will also be featured in a youth solo performer showcase at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, along with strong fellow emerging talents Ava Carich and singer Madison Bell.
“I’ve been playing with his band and helping him get it going,” Black notes. “As a performer, I’ve seen him go from singing to tracks at showcases to transitioning into a full band.”
Black has also helped in putting together a band of ‘pros’ – including drummer Kyle Rodomsky to accompany the Cloverdale-raised Bell (who came up through the Valley Voices competition), in her individual set (Saturday at 1:15 p.m.).
He said he’s also proud of the Elgin Park Secondary songwriting class, which has its own showcase at 2 p.m. on Saturday.
“I’ve brought them to Vancouver to top studios to perform their music,” he said, adding the project has helped develop Elgin as a breeding ground of talent – performers such as Tichelman, Carich and Josh Bogert.
“It’s a beautiful affirmation of what musical education is all about,” he said.
Among other free acts at the main stage on Saturday will be Beyond The Eyes (12:45 p.m.), and Coldwater and the Bootleggers (3:30 p.m.)
On Sunday, Aug. 6, well known White Rock singer-songwriter, choral director and music educator Heidi McCurdy will take the stage at 2:45 p.m.
Other acts Sunday will also be a showcase of younger talents who got their start on the Peninsula – including Molly Griffin (3:15 p.m.), Honest and the Crow (4:15 p.m.), The Escapes (4:45 p.m.), Sarah Jickling and her Good Bad Luck (5:30 p.m.) and Harley Small (6:15 p.m.) – leading into popular progressive alt-rockers Hawking, featuring Tom Vanderkam, at 7 p.m., just before the torchlight parade.