28 years of Kaslo Jazz Fest

Less than 1,000 people call Kaslo home, but for one weekend every year since 1992, the population of the small Kootenay town balloons.

This past weekend, thousands of people pulled into town for the 28th annual Kaslo Jazz Etc. Festival for three days of music, art, food, drink and Kootenay Lake lounging.

The venue, at Kaslo Bay Park, is as picturesque as venues come, with the main stage floating just off the beach and Kootenay Lake and the Purcell Mountain range providing the backdrop.

This year saw an array of talented artists from across North America take to the two stages, including Texas-based Khruangbin, Galactic out of New Orleans and Nahko And Medicine For The People from Portland. The international headliners were complemented by many Kootenay-based artists as well, including Kaslo's own Small Town Artillery.

“It was a phenomenal year for us, we have such an amazing core group of staff,” said Hannah Lunn, volunteer co-ordinator of the festival. “We had everything, we had a little bit of wild weather, we had phenomenal music, we had beautiful weather.”

The festival has grown by leaps and bounds since it's first iteration in 1992, and while it was originally a pure jazz festival, the lineups have diversified in recent years.

“Paul Hinrichs took over as artistic director in 2014, and it's kind of ushered in a new era,” Lunn said. “It started as a jazz festival but now there's everything from roots and bluegrass and funk and soul. So that's why it's Kaslo Jazz Etc. Festival, because we've got a lot going on.”

With festival camping scattered across the small town, and music going late into the night at the Kaslo Hotel and Pub, the town itself is very much a part of the festivities.

The event is hosted by the Kaslo Jazz Etc. Society, a registered charity with a mandate to “foster and promote the appreciation of jazz and related music in the Kootenays.” Twenty-eight years in, and with both Reuters and USA Today naming the festival as one of the best places in the world to see live music outdoors, the society appears to be living up to their mandate.

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