Looking back, Jim Byrnes says he didn’t know what was going to happen when he hosted the first Dream Music Festival in 2015.
“We certainly wanted to get the word out that we wanted to ‘Keep the Dream Alive,’ which was our motto,” said Byrnes, referring to the effort to preserve The Dream Café, a Penticton venue with a worldwide reputation.
Back for his third year as the Dream Festival host, Byrnes said he’s glad to see the efforts of the co-op and the performers were successful.
“Awfully glad that it is alive. It’s gone through some changes, and they’ve had their ups and downs, but here we are to keep things moving in the right direction,” said “It’s a tough go, man, with the economy and the way the world is these days, you never know what is going to happen, but we certainly want to give it our best shot.”
Featuring the likes of Steve Dawson, Shakura S’Aida, Russell de Carle, Dave McLean and more — and Byrnes, of course — the festival brings together folk, rock, blues, R&B and gospel in a weekend to remember.
“It’s one of these deals where there is so many artists on, it becomes more than the sum of its parts,” said Byrnes.
“There is a certain amount of magic to it. We’ve got some returning artists and we’ve got a bunch of new artists, which I think is great. We’ve got some really new and good artists coming in this year that we haven’t seen before.”
Byrnes is looking forward to the energy the performers, old and new, bring to the Dream Festival stage.
“With the artists that I’ve known for a long time, there’s a comfort in that part, but there’s an excitement in getting together with people I haven’t worked with before,” said Byrnes. “That makes it even better.”
Byrnes said the audiences at the festival are also something to look forward to.
“Everybody is just so enthusiastic. The energy that you get back from them is part of the appeal. The music is one thing, but then all these people and the energy you get from them and everything is a great part of it,” said Byrnes. “Ain’t no audience, ain’t no show.”
It makes for a long weekend, said Byrnes, but “so worth it.” That’s high praise coming from Byrnes, who’s been playing professionally since 1964, and performed with the likes of Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker and other greats of the blues scene.
“I have been doing this at some level, off and on professionally for some 52 years now. There have been some deep valleys and some great highs, but it is a gift I was given, to communicate through music and through storytelling,” said Byrnes. “I have just taken it as it comes and obviously it’s worked out for me, because I’ve given it my all.”
Coming to Penticton also gives Byrnes a chance to visit friends, and enjoy the area.
“I’ve got a lot of friends up there, and look forward to coming and seeing some people as well as being at the event,” said Byrnes. “It’s great up there. There are a couple of places that I love to go to on a given day. Up there on the bench, it’s kind of like being in heaven.”
The Dream Music Festival takes place on May 12 and 13, in the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre. Tickets are on sale at the South Okanagan Events Centre box office or online at dreammusicfestival.ca.