Rob Crooks is one of many artists playing this weekend's Rainbow Trout Music Festival (Tom De Geeter/CBC Music)
The festival started out as a celebration of a group of friends. We all like to go camping and a bunch of us are musicians who would bring out our acoustic instruments
—Ben Jones, festival director
The Rainbow Trout Music Festival and Fishing Derby will run -- like, um, salmon -- just south of St. Malo, this weekend.
The festival started out four years ago after a group of musician friends took their jam-session camping weekends to a logical conclusion.
"The festival started out as a celebration of a group of friends. We all like to go camping and a bunch of us are musicians who would bring out our acoustic instruments" said festival director Ben Jones (who also plays drums in the band Ultra Mega).
"One year we decided that next time we go camping we should bring all of our electric stuff for fun. But to do that we'd need a generator. And to do that we would probably need a dry stage to sit on. And if we were going to do that then we may as well invite some other people. And if we invited some other people then we may as well invite some other bands" said Jones.
And thus, a festival was spawned.
Four years later, the Rainbow Trout Music Festival is as eccentric as its name would indicate, with a diverse selection of independent Manitoba acts on the line.
"There's a lot of festivals around Manitoba and around the country that focus on folk and roots and country and not so many weekend-long camping festivals that focus on more independent genres like rock'n'roll, hip-hop, and electronic" said Jones. "So we try to bring together all the disparate genres of music into one festival to help bands reach out and find new audiences."
At the fest you can be hooked by acts like the rock band The Bokononists, the sweet songstress French Press, the hip/hop, mash-up, electronic artist Rob Crooks, and the experimental, avant-garde sounds of Smoky Tiger.
"Its a really eclectic, strange, fun lineup and I think when people come out they will be pleasantly surprised" said Jones.
And yes, there is fishing too, although the Roseau River isn't exactly know for its rainbow trout. (The festival's name was actually derived from its original location at Reynolds Ponds, a location well-stocked with that fighting fish).
This will be the third installment of the festival in the last year four years. Last year's fest was cancelled when wild fires made the old site inaccessible -- although the organizers unsuccessfully tried to go "renegade" with another site, before police shut it down.
The new location south of St. Malo now seems like the perfect setting for the 5 to 600 people the organizers expect to attend.
"Its a nice intimate spot. To have any more people than that might be a little out of hand. So the size really does suit the location," said Jones.
As for the festival itself, which has gone from a camping trip to a legitimate showcase for Manitoban musicians, Jones sees room for growth, although at a modest pace.
"We'd like to grow, and we are currently growing, but we'd like to keep our level of growth at a slow and steady pace -- we don't want to overshoot ourselves" said Jones. "Even though we are four years in, we are all a bit new at this, so each year the festival will grow, but at a steady, sustainable pace."
Tickets this year are $40 weekend passes excluding camping, $50 weekend passes including camping, $20 Friday passes, $25 Saturday passes, $10 Sunday passes. For full schedule and lineup see the official website.