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Sarah McLachlan, Blue Rodeo among artists performing at 2023 Salmon Arm ROOTSandBLUES

Organizers reveal first 20 musical acts coming to this year’s festival
Canadian music legends Sarah McLachlan and Blue Rodeo will be performing in the 31st edition of the Salmon Arm ROOTSandBLUES Festival, Aug. 17 to 20, 2023. (Photos contributed)

The 31st edition of the Salmon Arm ROOTSandBLUES Festival is shaping up to be another one for the books.

On Monday morning, March 6, the Salmon Arm Folk Music Society (SAFMS) and ROOTSandBLUES revealed its first 20 acts performing at the August event. Among them, Canadian country-rock legends Blue Rodeo, which will close out the Main Stage on opening night. The festival will conclude with Canadian music icon Sarah McLachlan.

Blue Rodeo isn’t the only returning ROOTSandBLUES fan favourite. Hawksley Workman is back this year, as is Five Alarm Funk (which also has a sold-out show at Song Sparrow Hall in April hosted by the SAFMS). The diverse menu of musical acts also includes Allison Russell, Battle of Santiago, Cory Harris, Crystal Shawanda, DJ Shub presents War Club, Garnetta Cromwell & DaGroovmasters, Jenie Thai, La Dame Blanche, Le Vent du Nord, Lido Pimienta, Melón Jiménez & Lara Wong Flamenco Project, Moontricks, Rick Estrin & the NightCats, TEKE TEKE and The Melawmen Collective.

More performers will be announced leading up to the Aug. 17-20 festival.

SAFMS/ROOTSandBLUES artistic director Kevin Tobin is both excited and proud of this year’s lineup. With the success of the 2022 festival, which included headliners Tom Cochrane and Jann Arden, and saw record numbers and sales, Tobin aimed to keep this year’s program consistent, once again offering an array of artists that will attract ROOTSandBLUES veterans and newcomers alike.

Speaking of newcomers, last year’s festival was Tobin’s first as its artistic director. He was happy with what he saw – music lovers thrilled to once again be able to gather and enjoy live music together.

“I think the vibe of the festival and the attendees coming back was just fantastic,” said Tobin. “I loved that you could feel how positive people were to be out in live music again.

“You know, when you’re essentially building a venue that has enough people on it to run a small city, things are going to go a little sideways sometimes, but overall, I was really proud of our team and all our volunteers who did a masterful job.”

That hunger for live music is something Tobin has also seen with the folk music society’s off-season series of sold-out concerts at Song Sparrow Hall, which started last April with Barney Bentall. Sloan rocked Song Sparrow on Sunday, March 5, and on April 16, SAFMS presents Five Alarm Funk, for which tickets sold out within four hours of going on sale.

“It’s been part of our goal and objective to be more active throughout the year as a society,” said Tobin of shows outside of ROOTSandBLUES weekend. “Other than just a society that runs a festival, they want to be active from a programming standpoint… This is part of that strategy, bringing in more shows throughout the off season, not only to keep our name more relevant within the community throughout the year, but also engage the community, and changing the culture from a concert-going audience standpoint.

“We’re starting to see and build demand for off-season programming and I think when you look at Song Sparrow and what they’re doing… the shows that Ted Crouch and Acoustic Avenue have been doing, it’s all about bringing in shows into the community.”

Read more: Making Salmon Arm ‘Live Music Capital of B.C.’ one of the goals for federal grant funding

Read more: Canadian alt-rockers Sloan to play Salmon Arm

Read more: ROOTSandBLUES: Week of free concerts announced for downtown Salmon Arm

Tobin said the off-season concert series is something SAFMS may look to expand, not only the number of shows but also the types of shows.

“It’s one thing to sell out shows for artists that have name recognition, we also want to be able to provide a platform for artists that are emerging. That’s kind of the next step in I guess the evolution of off-season programming,” said Tobin.

Song Sparrow Hall is also proving a critical asset, making Salmon Arm a place where artists want to stop to perform.

“We’ve got a great place for performers to play, great sound, great sight lines, it’s a professional venue so it gives us a lot of flexibility to be able to do off season programming - in the right way…,” said Tobin. “Some of the artists I’m already talking about for next year would be artists that would be playing 1,000- to 2,000-capacity arenas in larger markets…

“I think that’s really exciting. And we’ve seen the audience come out, and the support from the community. You can’t ask for much more than that. It’s been really fantastic.”

For information and tickets to the 2023 ROOTSandBLUES Festival, visit, and follow the festival on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
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Lachlan Labere

About the Author: Lachlan Labere

Editor, Salmon Arm Observer
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