Travel Blog

11 Jun

Whistler Summer Events: New Music & Free Concerts

TAG: Cultural Fix, Festivals Events

Posted by: Feet Banks

As we get older and busier, it becomes harder to stay up to date and in touch with new music and musical acts. As such, generation after generation have complained about the music of their children, “It’s just noise!”

New Music in the Mountains

And much of it is. But new technology has democratized the music industry quite a bit in the last decade— there is actually more great music than ever before and for every annoying, auto-tune pop star on the radio there are dozens of talented lesser-known musicians sitting down somewhere and pouring themselves into a musical tapestry of passion and soul. It’s a mistake to simply “stick with what we know” when it comes to music and the proof is on display all summer long at the the free concerts at Whistler Olympic Plaza.

Whether it’s the massive wall of sonic radness the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra unleashes at their free Canada Day and Independence Day concertos or the Prairie twang of Corb Lund or the ramblin’ good times of a Barney Bentall show, the Whistler Olympic Plaza will be going off this summer and there’s a good chance you’ll hear something new and find something you like.

Music is the heartbeat of life in fact, and sharing a live performance with other people is an integral part of human connection that has been coded into our DNA since the days of banging sticks around a cave fire. In fact, it’s entirely possible that the fountain of youth is as simple as a free outdoor concert played at sunset in the mountains with a couple thousand other people all grooving on the same sweet vibe.

Be sure to hit up‘s concert page for an up-to-date list of the live shows of summer 2014. Here at The Insider we’ve listed some of the shows we’re most excited about because no matter how old you are or what your tastes drift towards without music it’s not a party, it’s just a bunch of people standing around.

The Insider’s Must-See Whistler Olympic Park Concerts for Summer 2014
(and yes they are all free)

1. Canada Day Concert with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra

July 1, 2014. 3:00 PM

You haven’t heard our national anthem until you’ve heard a full orchestra belt it out from one of the most scenic stages in the country. The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra is back in Whistler for the third straight year and this is always one of the best shows of the summer. Add in the fact that it’s Canada Day AND they’re going to play Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries” and this might be the best show of the year. The VSO will also play on July 4th to celebrate American Independence Day as well as host a number of smaller quartet and quintet shows throughout the Village from July 1-4. More details.

LEFT: Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. RIGHT: Del Barber.

2. Gord Downie The Sadies—Pemberton Valley Music Fest Pre-Concert

July 16, 2014. 4:30 PM

As lead singer of The Tragically Hip (who once played a super-secret fundraiser show at the old Boot Pub for some Whistler/Pemberton flood victims) Gord Downie is a Canadian music icon but he’s been gathering steam as a solo act as well. He’ll be joined by The Sadies, band that has rocked Whistler before and always brings a real textured, atmospheric feel to their rock/country sound. Canadian Juno Award winner Matt Mays and American electronic artist Dan Deacon will join for a free afternoon show that kind of kicks off the Pemberton Valley Music Festival. For those who want to attend the Pemberton Fest but don’t feel like camping there will be buses from Whistler to the festival grounds all weekend long so you can stay in Whistler and party in Pemby. That’s living. More info and Pemby Fest Packages here.

3. Del Barber Band

August 29, 2014. 7:30 PM

Back in town after a sold-out show last April as part of the Whistler Arts Council’s Performance Series, Del Barber mixes a rich sense of history, place and storytelling into a rootsy, country-folk blend of sonic radness. Born and raised in the Canadian Prairies, Del is known for breathing new life into “old time” music and he can also weave a heck of a tale— his on-stage anecdotes between songs are getting to be as legendary as his music. Get ready Whistler, August 29 is gonna be a hootenanny!

Who likes free live music? LEFT: Rocky Dawuni band. Photo by Glen Wilson.

4. Rocky Dawuni

August 30, 2014. 8:30 PM

Straight outta Ghana, West Africa, Rocky Dawuni’s Whistler concert will be only his second ever show in Canada but the Reggae superstar has been making records since 1996. In 2011 he won “Best African Artist” at the International Reggae World Music Awards and in 2012 Dawuni was named an Ambassador of the UN Global Alliance Foundation. His uber-groovable music and strong positive messages should be the perfect way to celebrate the best things in life. And rumour is he’s bringing a big entourage/stage show. Party time guaranteed.

the fountain of youth

And that is just the beginning. With the Whistler Presents concerts and all the big festivals like Crankworx and Wanderlust there should be free music in Whistler every weekend this summer (and lots of weekdays too). Get all the information you need at In the meantime here are some YouTube videos of some of the music coming to Whistler this summer. Enjoy.

Del Barber talks about his album Prairieography and recording the reverb in a grain silo.

Rocky Dawuni Live in California.

Gord Downie and The Sadies.

Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries.

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