Sandbanks Music Festival
Folk-rock darlings Great Lake Swimmers headline concert
The fourth annual Sandbanks Music Festival will bring eight rock bands to the Outlet beach amphitheatre on September 16 in a family-friendly concert featuring some of the best food, beer and wine the County has on offer. Organized by Dave Ullrich, who operates the virtual music store zunior.com, the festival continues to build upon the venture that started as Sandbanks New Waves in 2014. The main performer in this year’s concert is folk-rock band Great Lake Swimmers. Their music features compelling lyrics and inviting vocal harmonies with layers of musical interplay between the band members. Some of the songs on their latest CD were recorded in the Tyendinaga Caves, taking advantage of the unique acoustic character offered by that location.
The choice of the headline band was an easy one for Ullrich. “Part of the connection I have to them is that a few years ago, Tony [Dekker], the lead singer, recorded a special acoustic album that was a collection of some of the best songs we’d released through my virtual store,” says Ullrich. “I love the band. And there’s seven other bands, which I think is the most we’ve ever had.”
While there’s a definite ’90s vibe to the music from bands such as Lowest of the Low, By Divine Right and The Inbreds—Ullrich’s old band, with whom he will be performing on stage—there’s a good dose of contemporary rock from Vallens and the opening all-female band Lonely Parade from Peterborough. There will also be some Francophone content. “We’ve got two bands from Montreal,” says Ullrich. “A very high percentage of people who go to Sandbanks are from Quebec. Solids is a powerful band from Montreal that’s brought a bunch of records out. Our very first Francophone artists, Lydia Képinski, sings in French.”
Ullrich is adamant about keeping the festival a familyfriendly event. “All the sets are short,” he says. “The music begins early and the idea is it’s a family event. This year, there will be two large tents with Krista [Dalby] and her team of volunteers who will do things like cape-making and face-painting. Every year we are getting more and more families. People love to camp and make a weekend out of it with their kids.”
Visitors to the festival will not suffer a from lack of food or drink. Food trucks from Picnic PEC and the Drake will be there. Wine, beer, cider and mead, as well as spirits from Kinsip will also be available for purchase. As in previous years, the stage will be decorated with fabric art from Suen Goonsekera, who creates her pieces from recycled materials. The environmentally conscious artwork will complement the often eco-aware songs of the Great Lake Swimmers.
Ullrich is grateful for support from the County as well as from the group Friends of Sandbanks, to which a portion of ticket sales will be donated. While the festival has seen a steady growth in attendance, Ullrich touts the benefits of a relatively small event. “I’m definitely inspired by some of the small festivals that exist across the country. Sandbanks is one of the more unique ones because it’s a chance to give you a taste of what’s successful at the best [festivals], but do it at a very modest level and still experience all of the great things, a variety of foods and music. People that have gone have said it’s a very laid-back experience, and that’s really a compliment.”