Wednesday, July 24, 2024
July 24, 2024

Pitchfork Social concert series set to thrill

Pitchfork Social — the unique Salt Spring music series of world-class roots and Americana performers — is about to open its first full season at The Jam Factory venue, and Pitchfork founder David Youngson couldn’t be more grateful.

Youngson is a devoted fan of Americana music — encompassing roots-rock, blues, country, bluegrass and folk genres — who brings together all the elements needed for an intimate concert and social experience on a non-profit basis.

“If somebody was doing this to make a profit or make a living at it, that couldn’t happen. It’s not at all possible,” he told the Driftwood. “Especially because of the kind of acts that we bring to the island. Quite honestly, they are often playing 2,000- and 3,000-seat places.”

“Everything we do is for the sake of the song,” he said.

The Jam Factory site, behind the popular food-business building at 319 Upper Ganges Rd., can seat 350 people. Last summer saw concerts by Frazey Ford, Ruth Moody and Tony Furtado held there, and changes have been made for this first full season. They include a bigger, higher stage with a different orientation, new stage and mood lighting, and an upgraded sound system through Greg Pauker.

Pitchfork Social was born in a transformed garage on Youngson’s property as Southend Grooveyard in 2012, then moved to Bullock Lake Farm and community halls, endured a Covid break and then found the Jam Factory location.

Solid support from community partners makes Pitchfork Social possible, Youngson said. That includes about 20 volunteers; the Harbour House Hotel, which provides a break on accommodation costs for musicians; venue owner Stephen Mulherin; sound man extraordinaire Pauker; area property owners that allow parking on concert nights; and the events’ food and drink providers. In addition to Woodshed Provisions offering pre-show dinners on seven nights, South End Sausage will be the main food provider one night, and Hen and Hound on another. South End Sausage charcuterie boards will also be available before all concerts, said Youngson, and Salt Spring Kitchen Co. will also participate.

Salt Spring’s “music- and arts-loving population” is also a crucial part of the Pitchfork formula, he said. The series wouldn’t be viable if all the shows didn’t sell out, “so I’m super grateful to the audience for filling those seats.”

Two mid-July shows by Canadian alt-country/rock legends Cowboy Junkies sold out soon after tickets were released earlier this spring. Quick action is also likely required to get some of the last few tickets for the series-opener on June 29 with Harry Manx and special guests Genevive Jodoin on keyboards, and Mark Ferris on violin.

Youngson stressed what a treasure Manx is as a Salt Spring resident and world-renowned musician and collaborator.

“People don’t realize who he is out there in the world. Some do, of course, but many certainly don’t, unless you’re a real fan.”

The rest of the season looks like this:

• July 10: Dylan LeBlanc with the Yaletown Strings — another exciting collaboration, said Youngson;

• July 17-18: Cowboy Junkies (sold out);

• July 22: Chris Smither, with BettySoo;

• Aug. 15: Eilen Jewell Band;

• Aug. 22: Willie Watson Trio;

• Aug. 26: Mike Farris & the Fortunate Few;

• Sept. 1: Kelly Hunt Trio.

Youngson said some performers are more well-known than others, but he has heard them all, and often multiple times, and knows audiences will be as thrilled as he is to have them on the island. The fact that some 30 to 40 per cent of concert patrons are from off-island hints at the drawing power of Pitchfork acts.

Youngson also expressed huge gratitude to the musicians themselves, who are willing to take the extra time required to get to and from the island, which can be a risky thing to do if ferries don’t co-operate and they end up arriving or leaving late and jeopardizing their next gig as a result.

Dinner sales for all Pitchfork shows begin at 6 p.m., with music at 7:30 p.m.

More information about the acts and tickets are available through

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  1. We have tickets for the Willie Watson show and are excited to see such a fantastic artist play a small venue in such a beautiful place!


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