Element Music Festival: A True Jam Paradise

Snug Lake Amphitheatre
British Columbia, Canada

Words by J. Picard

With Jam festivals becoming a thing of the past and event organizers going the way of the DJ, true jamband purists are left with increasingly less options for their summer escapes. Coming from the community that built and having attended events like Bonnaroo, All Good Music Festival, Summer Camp Music Festival, Rothbury, Wanee and so many other events that were merely an explosive blip on the radar, one thing is clear; A festival dedicated to one of our community's favorite genres is much needed. Element Music Festival has become the emerging centerpiece at a table set long ago...

In 2016, the water was tested with a small gathering. In 2017, intention was added to the mix as well as an infusion of cash from a man who loves both the genre and the community and was willing to take a risk to create something pure, something magical. Against all odds, death within the team, fires in the immidiate region and the reality of the event being a jam festival in 2017, what resulted was a festival of mythical status.

Now, I have never been one to struggle with words, but in attempting to describe what unfolded last year at Snug Lake, I am at a complete loss and feel my words couldn't possibly do the experience justice. Instead what I'll do is take this opportunity to mention some of my favorite memories and aspects of Element Music Festival, while hopefully adequately painting a picture of why this year's festival is not to be missed.

1. The Intimacy: Maybe I am getting old, but massive sites under mid-day suns with limited shade, no refreshing lake or river and heavy handed searches and security have lost their luster. I am looking for more of the summertime camp experience, where you reconnect with old friends, swim, hike and pet horses. Coupling that sort of experience with professional level production and bands that can be found performing at venues like Red Rocks Amphitheatre, results in a dream.

At Element fans could catch Roosevelt Collier doing an unannounced beach set or wander over to the on-site dispensary and find Oteil Burbridge (Dead & Company, Allman Brothers) doing dabs and hanging out. It wasn't out of the question to have Steve Kimock wander through the vending village or Fareed Haque (Garaj Mahal) roll into your camp on an ATV talking in a fake accent. These subtleties were in some cases intentional and in some random, but all-in-all help to tear down the barrier that most larger events put up between fans and musicians.

2. The Musical Approach: From the get go the EMF team has focused on live music, improvisation and collaborations. Last year we saw Oteil, Fareed & Alan Hertz sit in with The String Cheese Incident (a clear highlight), we saw Oteil and Michael Kang sit in with Steve Kimock during his latenight set and we saw Oteil and Roosevelt sit in with bands like Genetics, creating a dream scenario for the young jam up-and-comers.

The formula starts with bands that focus on live instrumentation and welcome guests. The line-up is spiced up with artists at large and it's then put in the artists' court to determine the outcome. This style leaves the door wide open for magical collaborations and one time only experiences!

3. The Adventure: Who isn't up for a summer adventure? Traveling vast distances to explore unfamiliar lands and meet new life friends... it's what we all lived for and that feeling still lies inside of us. Whether you're waiting for that bonus at work, waiting to sell that car that's been listed online for a while or waiting for that tax return, an adventure waits. What better destination than British Columbia, Canada? What better reason than an intimate music festival set on an incredible landscape?

Get your passport (if you're traveling internationally), secure your tickets or fill out a volunteer application, pack up the car with your camping gear, a cooler of beer (as it's BYOB), your best friends and head west, north or whatever direction leads you to Snug Lake!

4. The Line-up: Last year's line-up featured three nights/six set of The String Cheese Incident, as well as multiple performances by Garaj Mahal, Steve Kimock, Oteil Burbridge, Five Alarm Funk, Roosevelt Collier and more!

This year's line-up features three nights/six sets of Lotus, as well as multiple performances by Karl Denson's Tiny Universe, Spafford, Particle, Genetics, Yak Attack, McTuff, Naryan Padmanabha, GD/BC, The Unfaithful Servants, Baked Potato and artists at large Jen Hartswick & Natalie Cressman of Trey Anastasio Band and Jason Hahn of The String Cheese Incident!

5. The Community: Canadians are already known for being very friendly, but what I found on my visits to Canada has been a welcoming party second to none. I feel closer to the folks in the north than I do with many folks that I have know for years. As soon as you hit the property, the staff makes you feel at home! Come enjoy a weekend of incredible music and make some lifelong friends!



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