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Generations celebrate Midsummer Festival’s 40th anniversary

Alex Cuba headlines 2023 edition in rare hometown performance

For the first time in several years, the atmosphere at the Midsummer Music Festival really felt like pre-COVID times.

The 40th anniversary of the homegrown festival in Smithers also took on an impromptu generational theme June 30 - July 2.

On opening day, perennial headliner and local favourite Mark Perry took to the main stage at 8 p.m. followed by his daughter MIP at midnight who rocked out the crowd with her MIP Power Trio.

On Saturday night, it was Alex Cuba’s turn to pull out the family ties in his headlining performance. The Grammy and multiple Juno award-winning Smithers Latin artist, performing a full show for the first time in many years in his home town, welcomed his mother Maria Del Carmen, father Valentín Puentes and twin brother Adonis Puentes to the main stage at the fall fairgrounds.

It was a very special moment in a weekend filled with special moments.

Another was the reappearance of the Beatnix, an almost all-percussion band featuring founders and Smithers music royalty Richard Jenne, Paul Glover and Paul Dwyer along with Richard’s son Jake Jenne and bassist Ian Olmstead, that some 20-plus years ago was a mainstay of the live music scene in Smithers.

Glover quipped that when they were asked to play, they wondered if they still had it, and their friends wondered if they still had it.

The jam-packed main stage audience concluded they did, indeed, still have it.

Yet another was honouring Midsummer mainstay and founder of Norma’s Ark (now The Ark) Playday Centre founder Norma Stokes for her 35 years of working with generations of Bulkley Valley children.

Over the course of the weekend, there were 81 official performances on five stages including the Main Stage, Stage 3, 4-H Barn, Kids Stage, Jam Zone and Tweener stage.

The music spanned the spectrum of genres from First Nations drummers to alternative punk-funk to electronic dance music mixed in with the more traditional folk styles harkening to the now four-decade roots of Midsummer.


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Thom Barker

About the Author: Thom Barker

After graduating with a geology degree from Carleton University and taking a detour through the high tech business, Thom started his journalism career as a fact-checker for a magazine in Ottawa in 2002.
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