Freya Cox of Port Hardy twirls a hula-hoop during the Tri-Port Music Festival at Cluxewe Resort Saturday afternoon.

Fans embrace festival

The Tri-Port Music Festival draw it largest crowd yet last weekend.

CLUXEWE RESORT—A wide mix of musical acts — and a healthy dose of Chilliwack — helped the Tri-Port Music Festival draw it largest crowd yet Saturday to this picturesque seaside resort.

“We still have to count up the receipts and tickets, but it seemed like we had 500 or more people,” said Dave Stevenson, promoter of the festival now in its third year.

The big draw was Chilliwack, which played a high-energy set of the many hits the group has charted since it was formed in 1970 — “We’re in the third year of our 40th anniversary tour,” founder Bill Henderson joked. Dozens of festival-goers flocked to the open area in front of the stage to dance throughout the set. Chiliwack got off to a bit of a late start, partly due to sound-check issues, but made up for it by playing well past the scheduled closing time. The group even accommodated the crowd’s chants for an encore by coming back for a send-off tune.

Well before Chilliwack took the stage, fans were treated to a wide diversity of acts, all of which delivered in solid fashion.

Local singer-songwriter Richelle Andre opened with a solo set of original songs, her final live showcase before leaving later this month to record her debut CD in California.

The international trio Sugar Beetles, with members hailing from the Cowichan Valley, Alberta and Virginia, followed with a blend of country, blues and bluegrass-tinged folk.

The legendary folk crooner Valdy, technically co-headliner with Chilliwack, kept the crowd in stitches as he wove storytelling with songs, many of which were laced with improvised lyrics ad libbed on the spot.

Next up was the Impalas, a tight cover band that rocks numbers from the 1960s through the ’90s. Following the three acoustic acts, the up-amped Impalas’ set was initially marred by sound issues, and several in the audience picked up their lawn chairs to move to the back, away from the high volume. The sound quality was mitigated somewhat as the set went on, and the lessons learned were employed to good effect when Victoria-based CocoJafro followed with its funkified jazz fusion stylings.

Scotty Hills, a contemporary singer-songwriter, then showed off his roots-pop stylings backed by a combo that included a horn section.

Members of all the groups stayed afterward to meet visitors and sign merchandise at a tent erected alongside the event stage.

“It went really well,” said Stevenson. “People seemed to have a good time.”