Music hoedown rocks out 

Inaugural country rock music festival moseys up to the beer garden with Spirit of the West and Aaron Pritchett

click to enlarge Capital C Countryboy Juno-nominee Aaron Pritchett headlines Whistler's new Campground C Country-Rock Festival.
  • Capital C Countryboy Juno-nominee Aaron Pritchett headlines Whistler's new Campground C Country-Rock Festival.

What: Campground C Country-Rock Music Festival

When: Aug. 25

Where: Whistler driving range

Tickets: $45

Get ready for country with a little rock on the side.

The first Campground C Country-Rock Music Festival Aug. 25 in Whistler aims to put cowboy boots and ripped jeans side by side.

“We’ve got an eclectic mix of country and rock,” said festival founder Byron James of Echo One Productions. “Ideally that is what we want to do, so people who love country want to come, but people who like rock but aren’t sure about country will still want to come out… We wanted to make sure we weren’t leaving anyone out.”

There will be no twang of any kind with Spirit of the West’s Celtic-inspired folk music on the country scene. With four gold and two platinum albums to their credit, hits such as Home for A Rest, Save This House and If Venice Sinking have become Canadian anthems for West Coasters.

Headliner Aaron Pritchett is as country as cowboy hats can get. The 2007 Juno nominee for Country Album of the Year and seven-time Canadian Country Music Awards (CCMA) nominee resonates a solid chord with country fans, but rock and rollers will also relate to his straightforward songs with an edgier sound.

The Big Wheel keeps on turning, the name of Pritchett’s newest album, which already hit number three on Canadian Country Radio, riding on top for more than eight weeks, an unheard of accomplishment for an indie artist. Listen for hits such as Hold My Beer (While I Kiss Your Girlfriend) at the outdoor celebration.

Other acts with a capital C for country are The Cruzeros. The Juno-nominated country band crosses over roots and Americana sounds with their Tex-Mex infusion.

Damian Marshall, a nominee for the 2006 CCMA country rising star award, is a regular sound on Country Music Television with hits such as Built to Last and Why Don’t We.

Kelly Brock carries on the rock country belt buckle with hits from her fourth album, Rebel Kind , including Cowboy Boots and Levis, and High on the Sunshine.

Dustin Bentall is all about dusty diner alternative country rock, a cross between Bob Dylan and Blue Rodeo.

Smith and Jones’ country rock travels home and afar, from the Queen’s palace to Queensland, shifting from laidback country to high-octane rock.

Steel Toe Boots is a regular sound at the Campground C nights at the Longhorn Saloon in Whistler, and who doesn’t know southern-fried rock duo The Hairfarmers with their legendary sing-a-long rock standards, classic country and pop favourites.

Nine bands will keep festival goers dancing with offstage distractions such as a mechanical bull, jumbo boxing, sumo wrestling suits, a Velcro wall and more to keep the whole family entertained. Beer gardens and food vendors will also be on site.

“We want to create such an experience that when the last act is finished, people will say, ‘So when is this going to be happening next year,’” James said.

James wants to grow the one-day festival to multiple days in the near future. He is keeping the inaugural run short and sweet, but the Whistler Golf Course driving range has the capacity to expand from a crowd of 3,000 to a 20,000 as the years go by.

“There are challenges with being a first year festival in terms of getting it out there,” he said. “We want people walking away with an amazing experience; a huge bang for their buck. Nine bands for $45 is an unbelievable deal — even if you are only checking out the top two.”

For tickets, visit or


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