Champagne Republic will be performing at the Spirit of the Sea Festival this upcoming weekend.

Champagne Republic will be performing at the Spirit of the Sea Festival this upcoming weekend.

Sea Fest to feature homegrown talent

Peninsula artists to perform, as well as big-name talent

It’s not just about big name acts or who is headlining the ‘main stage’.

That’s the word from Jim Black, the White Rock-raised guitarist, music promoter, Star Captains leader and co-ordinator of musical acts for Spirit of the Sea Festival 2012.

There’s going to be a wealth of great musical entertainment around White Rock and Semiahmoo Park during the festival this long weekend, he said, but music lovers need to check out all of the venues – the Spirit Stage at Semiahmoo Park, the East Stage at East Beach and the West Stage at West Beach – to catch this year’s intriguing mix of known acts and lesser-known, but just as noteworthy, talents.

“We’re trying to get away from the idea of a main stage,” he said. “They’re all great stages.”

Evidence of that is the fact that Black has opted to have his own band, the Star Captains – masters of technologically-updated ‘70s-style soul – play the Spirit Stage as the concluding act of the festival (Monday, 7 p.m.).

There’s also a strongly local slant and connection to the music, and Black says he and co-organizer and sound wizard Phil Davey have made a conscious decision to go in that direction.

“In the past, people have brought in big artists, but there are so many people in town, so much talent around town,” he said.

“With me and Phil, it’s all about getting the scene to be even better. Our goal is to bring people together. We want to be able to present concerts all the year round here. It makes more sense than having people raise a lot of money to bring in some big artists from outside (the Peninsula).”

Not that there won’t be some readily identifiable names for local music lovers.

Guitarist Jesse Burch (Saturday, 5:30 p.m., Spirit Stage), and vocalists Chanel Stasiuk (Saturday, 5 p.m. East Stage) and Joe Given (Saturday, 6 p.m., East Stage), the Billy Knutson Drum Experience (Saturday, 11 a.m. West Stage), roots icons The Sumner Brothers (Saturday, 4 p.m., West Stage),  and rising alt-pop band Their There (Saturday, 7:30 p.m. West Stage) are all well-known on the Peninsula and further afield.

So are multi-cultural fusionists Wheat in the Barley (Sunday, 7 p.m. East Stage), the jazzy Abby David Trio (Sunday, 11 a.m., West Stage) and a killer line-up later on Sunday at the West Beach stage – original songsmiths Tommy Alto (2 p.m.) and Neil Harnett (3 p.m.), noted Vancouver jazz pianist Bruno Hubert, (4 p.m.), bluesman Jason Buie, 5 p.m., and current and past musicians from the Semiahmoo Secondary jazz program with a big-band style salute to recently retired band director Dave Fullerton at 6 p.m.

Monday’s line-up (Spirit Stage only) includes such known quantities as Steve Gidora and Medderick’s Jokers and Prophets (noon), blues stalwart David Boxcar Gates (2 p.m.), and singer-songwriter Phil Dickson (3 p.m.).

But there are also a wide range of acts that, while not as well-known on the local scene, are well worth a look and listen.

Bands such as The Quickness (Saturday, 6 p.m., West Stage), for example, or Emily Chambers’ Champagne Republic (Saturday, 7 p.m., East Stage), No Expectations (Saturday, 8 p.m., Spirit Stage), Bastard Skinny (Sunday, 6 p.m., East Stage), Trademark! (Sunday, 7:15 p.m., Spirit Stage) and, on Monday, at the Spirit Stage, My Pet Lion (4 p.m.) and Goodbye Bones (6 p.m.).

Rising young artists showcasing their talents include Brie Flemington and Ben Dunnill, featured on Saturday at the Spirit Stage at 4 p.m. and 4:45 p.m.; Zoey Maclean and Sarah Gawthorp, on Sunday at the Spirit Stage at 4 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. respectively; and such featured performers, Monday at the Spirit Stage, as Giuseppe Pietraroia (11 a.m.), Jermaine Peguda (1 p.m.), and B.J. Block and Dawn Pemberton (5 p.m.).

The Peninsula Arts Foundation will showcase some of its grant recipients 3-5 p.m. Saturday at the East Stage, including Dunnill, the Surrey Youth Theatre Company, Colleen Donnelly and James Meger.

“The foundation is great,” Black said. “They’ve been supporting many of us in the arts for so many years – our plan is to start a bursary with them next year.”

Black, who will also play a set of pop tunes at the end of the pier on Sunday in honour of his grandfather – who first settled in White Rock in the late `40s and his father, who was harbour-master for most of the `70s – feels a strong sense of commitment to his home community, and a desire to nurture new generations of musical performers.

“I feel blessed to be able to give people a start and get some of these kids playing,” Black said.

“One example is a kid I saw performing at a talent contest recently – Richard Tichelman. He’s only around 10 or so, a singer who works with backing tracks, but he sings really well.

“I booked him and I thought, ‘I’m going to learn some of his material from the tracks and go and play with him.’

“That will really give him encouragement, to know that the organizer of the music for the festival is willing to come and play for him – that explains what we’re trying to do here.”