Rock'n Roll! Blue Feather Music Festival closes its 22nd edition in Whitehorse

Blue feathers are used to portrait the peace symbol at the Yukon Arts Centre, in Whitehorse, on Nov. 5, 2022. The symbol reflects the Blue Feather Music Festival's theme,
Blue feathers are used to portrait the peace symbol at the Yukon Arts Centre, in Whitehorse, on Nov. 5, 2022. The symbol reflects the Blue Feather Music Festival's theme,

The 22nd Blue Feather Music Festival put the emphasis on soothing the mind with music.

The event, which took place from Nov. 5 to Nov. 6 in Whitehorse, gathered several artists from across the world, with a focus on youth and Indigenous performers. For festival founder Gary Bailie, Blue Feather — a mainstay on the territory's music scene since 2000 — is all about bringing different generation of artists together.

"Although this festival has a First Nations grassroot beginning, it's really about inviting everybody," Bailie told CBC News.

"I always thought that the grandest part of First Nations culture ... is that we welcome people and we share. As we have come out of a lot of things, residential schools, intergenerational trauma, and reconciliation ... just try to make things right again. We have a lot of good, hidden talents."

Virginie Ann / CBC News
Virginie Ann / CBC News

Bailie said this year's theme, "Peace of Mind," was not only chosen to promote serenity and inner calm, but also in honour of Ukraine.

For the occasion, splashes of the blue and yellow colours of Ukraine's flag were thrown across the stage's art work.

"We believe in finding peace for ourselves, in our mind, but also peace on our planet," said Bailie, who's been volunteering his time toward the festival for the past two decades.

"Music has a universal language, and it just seems that when the music is playing, there is peace in the world. But as soon as the music stops, wars start."

Musicians young and old

The two-day event featured some well-known artists including Stevie Salas and Bernard Fowler, who've both performed previously with the Rolling Stones; rock and blues singer Sass Jordan; and Bria Rose, who made her Blue Feather stage debut this year.

One of the festival's youngest artists, Sierra Levesque, told CBC News this was a chance to connect with people who are like-minded.

"I sometimes feel a little bit left out at school, people don't really understand musicians," Levesque said. "Most of my songs are about that feeling, wanting to be somewhere else."

The 17-year-old from Pembroke, about 150 kilometres from Ottawa, said she's been performing for the past 10 years — at bars, parks, even in the back of pickup trucks — but hitting the Blue Feather Music Festival stage is a milestone.

Virginie Ann / CBC News
Virginie Ann / CBC News

"It feels amazing, I'm so glad to have traveled this way because I would have never expected to be performing in the Yukon, it's a great opportunity to meet a lot of rock artists who share the love for the music," she said.

While the event showcased experienced musicians, one of the festival's missions is also to mentor youth in all areas of production and performances, Bailie explained.

"Some of these guys have been around, they take music to a whole other level," he said.

"They practice a lot, they came and rehearsed for two, three days before they hit the stage ... It was very unique, we had young people interacting with them and observing. Those are the kind of things that are really cool and rewarding. That's my paycheck."