Eighth Annual

Princeton Traditional Music Festival

Friday 14 to Sunday 16 August ~ 2015


John Kidder

The he streets of Princeton will once again be alive with the sound of fiddles, banjoes, singing and dancing. The 8th Annual Princeton Traditional Music Festival begins on Friday, 14 August. Come to Veterans’ Square at 6:15 pm for the opening ceremony and then kick up your heels to the music of Psycho Acoustic Ceili band. On Saturday and Sunday, August 16 and 17 there will be music from 10 am until 6 pm right in downtown Princeton. This year features an exciting lineup of new talent together with many familiar faces from past years.

The Princeton Traditional Music Festival aims to present music that has come out of people’s everyday lives; the kind of music shared informally among families and communities and the kind of music that speaks of daily living.

People who work full-time spend about 2000 hours a year at their job and perhaps 40 hours a year making love, and yet ninety percent of the songs heard on radio are about love. In order to rectify this imbalance the Festival is presenting a workshop called “Songs of Work”.

These days we don’t associate work with singing, but historically there has often been a strong correlation between the two.

Some songs are sung as part of the job. While guarding the herd at night, cowboys often sang songs to sooth the cattle. Sometimes songs were used to give rhythm to a job. Sailors on the tall ships used songs called shanties to give pacing and energy to such jobs as raising a sail, hauling in the anchor or pumping the ship. The shanties were led by an experienced sailor, the shantyman, who knew intimately the duration and rhythmic requirements for each job. He sang a line and the crew, while working, joined in on the alternating chorus lines. The song lasted as long as the task at hand and if it took a little longer than expected the shantyman would make up verses extemporaneously to keep the shanty going until the job was done. The prison chain gangs in the US sang rhythmic songs while they broke rock with sledge hammers to build roads. Waulking songs were sung in Scotland to give rhythm to the communal work of softening tweed.

Some work songs were sung for communal entertainment outside of working hours. While off watch sailors sang about going ashore for a booze-up and a bed with a woman in it. BC has a rich tradition of songs made up and sung by miners, loggers and fishers about their working lives. The coalfields of Britain and the Appalachians gave birth to a wealth of songs that spoke of the hardships and occasionally the joys of the job.

In the “Songs of Work” session you will hear Linda Chobotuck from Burnaby, who is new to the Festival this year, singing about various jobs she has had – in a salmon cannery, in an office, in a library. Brian Robertson from Vancouver has also had many jobs – fisherman, taxi driver, researcher -- and has made some fine songs about his work experiences. Princeton’s own Daniel Davidson will be singing about his true-life adventures at sea. John Kidder (picture)from Ashcroft has worked as a cowboy and specializes in singing the songs that the real old-time cowboys used to sing.

What unites all these songs is that they were made and sung by people who did the jobs described in the songs. The “Songs of Work” session is thus a musical journey through people’s working lives.

The “Songs of Work” workshop is just one item on the rich menu of music available at the Princeton Traditional Music Festival. The Festival begins at 6:15 pm on Friday 14 August with an opening ceremony and a participatory dance on Veterans’ Way. On Saturday and Sunday there is music from 10 am until 6 pm right in downtown Princeton. It’s all free and everyone is welcome.

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The Festival

Admission is FREE.  Events are held on several stages in the centre of Princeton and begin on Friday evening with a public street dance and an Irish ceili band. Between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday there's a potpourri of concerts, workshops, and jams.

The Scene

This event is primarily for and about the performers. Traditional Music lacks venue in the west, so players, singers, dancers, and fans are willing to travel in order to meet up. Professional performers are making personal sacrifices in order to be here, but the many people who come just to listen attests to the unique value of this event. For those new to the Festival please have a look at the Our Story page to learn about how it started and what Traditional Music means to us.


The Place

Nestled among rolling hills of ranchland, the little town of Princeton is the gateway to the Okanagan. About 300 km from Vancouver, it is the first town after Hope along the Crowsnest Highway. Summers are hot and dry - just what we like for our festival which takes place mostly in the streets.


In addition to the sponsors, this festival is primarily supported by hard work and artists who perform for free. However, we aim to pay for artist's meals and at least part of their transportation costs. Please consider contributing in order to help maintain this important cultural event.

Become a Member

You can support the continuing operation of the festival by buying a $10 membership.


Every year we need a stage crew, MCs, office staff, and many other important helpers. If you want to be part of this exciting event in this way, please let us know. volunteers@princetontraditional.org


We encourage the sale of food, crafts, art, and more at the Festival. Please contact the Vendor Coordinator. vendors@princetontraditional.org


Funding for the Festival comes from donations, as well as grants from the Town of Princeton, the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen, and the Province of British Columbia.

We thank you all!

Festival Audience



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