Vocalist Sage McBride (left) says her band's identity is intimately tied to its small ski town—Fernie

Vocalist Sage McBride (left) says her band's identity is intimately tied to its small ski town—Fernie

Kelowna: Parks Alive! draws Shred Kelly off the mountain to the waterfront

Their "stoke folk" ordinarily gets snowboarders ready to ride, this summer the five ski bums beach it with a free Okanagan concert

  • Jul. 12, 2013 8:00 a.m.

Stoke folk brings Shred Kelly to Okanagan Lake for one of the free Parks Alive! concerts staged each summer in Kelowna’s parks

In the beginning, some work for food, others for lodging, heck there’s probably plenty who would work for a good beer.

Shred Kelly took nothing less than ski passes.

“Marketing yourself as a ski-town band has its perks,” said lead singer Sage McBride. “And another good thing about playing a lot in ski communities is that they are revolving communities…It’s nice because it’s not really a market you can overplay.”

Their “stoke folk”—as in get happy, get stoked, bounce out of the concert feeling the kind of toe-tapping energy one needs to make it through the next day as a liftie in -15 C weather on a mountain—has nevertheless rolled across the country on the CBC Tracks on Tracks train tour.

Billed as a showcase of the best of the best CBC Radio has to offer, one can imagine landing these kinds of gigs, and keeping that train rolling, so to speak, will soon see their music goals supersede the snowbound lifestyle they enjoy in Fernie, B.C., a resting place decidedly incongruous with an aim of getting noticed.

And yet, they’re pretty committed to small town living, saying if it’s not Fernie, it’s going to be some other snow-crested hamlet.

“We’ve talked about it and we know that being from a smaller area has its hinderances…but it’s become a part of our identity,” said McBride. “Fernie is very relevant to who we are as a band.”

At present, music occupies 50 per cent of their year and the other 50 per cent must be spent working to make rent. For a band that only met in 2009, their progress is nonetheless consistent.

Starting their career in true folk, largely acoustic with a lap steel guitar, they had the feel of foot stomping, mountain twang off the top. But just as the Kootenay music scene is now one part folk, one part Shambhala Music Festival hippie electronic mania, so too is their newer music.

And the creative experimentation that got them to this stage has also provided a platform for some other insane adventures.

Over the winter, banjo and guitar player Tim Newton built a full set of frozen instruments for their latest video.

Carving moulds in the snow, he placed plastic wrap down to hold the water and poured days of energy into his creations. All was going well until the snow began to melt in a warm weather snap and the group found themselves driving to Cranbrook to snag a freezer that just might save the masterpieces. So quick was the turnaround the freezer’s owner didn’t have time to clean out the dead cow guts—but the instruments survived.

When your crew is a bunch of snowboarders, strange tales come with the territory and suffering for the craft has proven an excellent vocation for the five bandmates.

So far, they’ve picked up free tickets as Whitewater and Red Mountain, Sun Peaks and Lake Louise, Mt. Norquay, Castle Mountain and they’ve played Golden enough times to call Kicking Horse home.

This summer, they’ll be playing the Ottawa Folk Festival where Neil Young takes the stage and they are finally going to play Shambhala and The Evolve Festival in Antigonish, Nova Scotia with headliner Xavier Rudd.

In Kelowna,their tour stop is part of the Parks Alive! free concert series. Hosted by Festivals Kelowna on the Island Stage in Waterfront Park on August 7 at 6 p.m., they will be sharing the evening with The Marksmen at 7 p.m. and Lefty at 8 p.m.

The Parks Alive! concert series runs all summer long in parks throughout the Central Okanagan.

Kelowna Capital News