Music fans to have a field day

Music: Southern Alberta artists performing at Aspen Crossing festival Aug. 22-23

By: Tammy Rollie

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Aug 20, 2014 09:03 am

Milo musician Larry Vannatta is helping to bring local musicians together for the Southern Alberta Music Festival at Aspen Crossing in Mossleigh Aug. 22 and 23.
Milo musician Larry Vannatta is helping to bring local musicians together for the Southern Alberta Music Festival at Aspen Crossing in Mossleigh Aug. 22 and 23.
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This summer’s extreme heat won’t stop southern Alberta musicians from getting together to perform south of Calgary this weekend.

Twenty country, blues, folk and rock and roll bands are slated to perform on the Calgary Stampede stage at the Southern Alberta Music Festival at Aspen Crossing in Mossleigh on Aug. 22 and 23.

The line-up of artists includes Wildflower, Tanya Ryan, Tim Hus, Lyndsay Butler, Tin and the Toad, Drew Gregory and Larry Vannatta. Proceeds from ticket sales will go to STARS Air Ambulance.

“We’ve got a great line-up of artists,” said Vannatta. “We’ve got 16 full bands and four singles. That’s a lot of artists.”

Vannatta, a traditional country, bluegrass and folk singer/songwriter from Milo, said it wasn’t an easy task selecting performers for this weekend’s festival.

“Pretty much everyone that was involved last year wanted to come back,” he said. “We had a long list of artists wanting to get involved in this. We wish we could have had more.”

Vannatta said last year’s spectators were surprised with the amount of musical talent in southern Alberta.

“A lot of people last year said, ‘I didn’t think there was that much talent in southern Alberta,’” she said. “There is so much talent you have to run a 10-day festival to get everybody involved.”

The festival offers a relaxing summer atmosphere for people to listen to a range of music throughout the day, said Vannatta.

“You are in the wide-open outdoors… the Stampede stage is in front of you, the artists are performing, it gives them an opportunity to listen to artist they’ve never heard before and also the artists they’ve come to see,” he said. “It gives a pretty good taste of what’s out there. It’s very fun for us to be able to perform as well as get the crowd rolling.”

Vannatta said the festival is an opportunity for people to support southern Alberta artists.

“To me that’s a real key to this whole event is artists are giving a lot of their time and it’s going to a good cause,” he said. “Sixty bucks for a whole weekend is pretty cheap.”

Last summer’s festival marked the event’s first year, attracting 400 spectators in the one-day event.

By operating the event over two days, festival co-organizer Jason Thornhill hopes for greater success in fundraising this year. Last year’s $4,300 in proceeds went to the High River disaster fund.

“If we can sell between 800 and 1,000 tickets we think we can raise about $16,000 for the different charities,” he said. “In a rural area it’s always a challenge to raise funds so if you can get people out to enjoy the country it’s good for everybody.”

Also benefiting from the fundraiser this weekend is the Mossleigh Lions Club, which is operating the beer gardens, the local 4-H club is collecting money for parking and the Arrowwood Agricultural Society is in charge of security, said Thornhill. Money will also be raised through food vendors and concessions.

“It’s a whole community event,” he said. “It’s just good to get exposure for our community, as well as all of these local artists.”

Thornhill said the pasture serves as a natural amphitheatre the way it slopes down towards the stage.

“It’s a really nice setting,” he said. “Everyone can see the prairie in the background.”

Thornhill said he expects the same calibre of entertainment this year as last.

“We’ve got so many compliments last year,” he said. “I was amazed at how talented these bands were. They weren’t like headliner-type bands, but these guys are just as good. I found the day went so fast because the music was just so good.”

Tickets to attend the Southern Alberta Music Festival cost $60, or $85 for reserved seating. To purchase tickets, inquire about camping on the property or for more information go to www.aspencrossing.com


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