William Prince at the Harbour Blues & Roots Festival
The Harbour Blues &
Roots Festival has been Victoria’s well-loved musical “End of Summer” tradition
for the last two decades, and returned post-pandemic on a new weekend, and with
an upgrade on its name!
I had the opportunity to join the audience on the Festival’s final performance
by William Prince, and just caught the Festival’s Chair sharing the thoughts
and decisions for the Festival’s future following reopening. He shared that the Harbour festival has
traditionally run on the Labour Day weekend and was previously placed a little
further out on the water of Victoria’s Ship Point pier.
With the recognition that the Festival would be growing, the decision was made
to bring the stage over to the inner section of the harbour, bringing more space
to handle the larger attendance. In fact, over 20,000 people attended this year!
To better reflect the genres of music of the bands performing at the Festival, “Roots”
was updated to the Festival name.
This was not mentioned, but I am thinking the shift to the last weekend of
August brings warmer evenings and an opportunity for more people to enjoy the
Festival, including the plentiful tourists who have come to explore Victoria!
The venue itself was a combination of bleachers and long tables with seating,
with a large area in front of the stage where many of William Prince’s fans
gathered to enjoy his performance up close. Speaking of which, it’s time to speak
about William Prince’s performance to this sold-out audience.
Walking out onto the stage, Prince welcomed the crowd expressing his happiness
to be there with all of us. He brought his greetings from Treaty 1 Territories,
and opened with singing “Standing in the light, Festival tonight, with a brand
new name. I’m feeling real good. And tonight I feel like singing for a long
long time, so I’ll be bringing some friends to help me, in just a little while,
a little while.” What a way to bring us all together, to make this a very
special moment between us all – including himself.
William Prince was born in Selkirk, Manitoba, and as a boy his family moved to
the Peguis First Nation. His father was a preacher and musician. Prince
travelled with his father, where it appears the skills of how to tell a story
and bring a group of people together was well taught from father to son. William
Prince’s rich baritone carried the evening, whether he was speaking or singing.
William Prince’s music is strongly adult contemporary, and his style ranges from
roots to country. We enjoyed a selection of music from both his debut solo
album Earthly Days, as well as his sophomore album Reliever. Throughout the performance,
Prince shared of his past and current relationships, of raising his young son,
his experiences of his heart. And that is the essence – the magic – of his
music and his voice. William Prince shares his heart while he’s performing on
stage, performing his music.
Surrounded by dedicated fans who could sing along with every word was magical, a
rare experience that I greatly enjoyed. I understand the awards and the respect
in the Canadian music community that William Prince is experiencing. Explore
more about William Prince at his website https://www.williamprincemusic.com/
The Harbour Blues & Roots Festival offers both free performances to be
enjoyed, as well as three ticketed portions for the evening performances. The
2023 dates is yet to be announced. The Festival is an initiative of the Victoria
Jazz Society, and the website can be found at https://jazzvictoria.ca/harbour-blues/.