There is nothing quite like enjoying live music outdoors in the summer, and fortunately there is an opportunity to do this nearly every night in the Shuswap. In each of the major communities, a different group organizes free shows that feature both local and touring bands in parks and other areas.

Wednesday on the Wharf

Shuswap’s first summer music series, Wednesday on the Wharf, began in 1993 when the Shuswap District Arts Council developed an arts program called Summer Mosaic that included Tuesday evening informal gatherings on the lawn at the Marine Park in Salmon Arm. One year, the Summer Pops Youth Orchestra performed independently on the lawn after first getting approval from the City’s recreation department. They agreed to return the following year, but on a Wednesday, so the Arts Council changed the name of their summer series to Wednesdays at the Wharf, which soon became on the wharf to take advantage of the acronym WOW.

In the early days, the performers were not paid, and they were primarily local groups including school bands and the Community Band. When the city purchased the Expo 86 gazebo, it became the stage for WOW. Over the years, funding from a variety of sources has enabled the free summer series to book professional touring acts and thus it attracts larger crowds.

Friday Night Live

Scotch Creek became the second Shuswap community to host a weekly summer music series when in 2010, the former Fireweed Gallery hosted Friday night shows on their outdoor stage. Then in 2013, property owner Barrie Warkentin collaborated with local businesses to host Friday Night Live in the parking lot in front of the library. The following year, a stage was built behind the building to take advantage of the lawn for the audience. With funding from local business sponsors and audience donations, the bands, including many from Kamloops, were able to be paid. In 2018, Friday Night Live moved to the field behind the Hub and with increased funding from sponsors including the CSRD, there are now bands coming from afar, the crowd numbers have grown significantly, and the evening includes a beer garden, night market and food trucks; all under the direction of a well-organized non-profit society.

Music by the Bay

Blind Bay was the third community to organize their weekly summer music series now called Music by the Bay in 2015 and it is now the largest event with crowd sizes often greater than 1,000 people. It is held in the de-facto parkland owned by Shuswap Lake Estates where the bands play on a large stage that was built for the annual Canada Day event. Organized by the Arts Council for the South Shuswap, which has obtained provincial grants as well as funding from many local business sponsors, the Thursday night show includes a night market and many food trucks. Often there are popular touring bands, including some who have played at the Roots and Blues Festival.

Music on the Lake

Sicamous and Chase were the last two communities to host music in the summer. When Dave Lepsoe, who is now the mayor of Chase, was at a tourism meeting he heard the Sicamous Chamber of Commerce announce their plans to host their series on Monday nights, he declared it would be Tuesday for Chase. During their first year in 2016, the Village of Chase organized the weekly event, called Music on the Lake, which uses the stage by the wharf that was built for the Chase centennial in 2008.

The Chase Festival Society, which also hosts the community’s annual Cornstock festival, Canada Day, and a Pride celebration, took over the management of Music on the Lake in 2017. Audience sizes range from 50 to 500, depending upon the weather and both local and touring bands play a diverse mix of music genres. Some nights are dedicated to specific themes, such as Pride, Recreation with local sport groups and Show N’ Shine with classic cars on display.

Music in the Park

When Music in the Park began in Sicamous in 2016, the first stage was a flatbed truck parked near the beach, and funding came from SASCU and the Best Western. The event improved when the District purchased a large portable stage, which requires trained staff to erect. As the event grew and more expensive bands began to play, local businesses joined as sponsors to cover the costs.

Arts Council fir the South Shuswap executive director Karen Brown sees the event as an opportunity to build community spirit that helps develop a “sense of belonging.” She explained how people often underestimate the power of live music, as she has met new residents that chose to live in Blind Bay in part because they “loved the vibe” at the community’s weekly outdoor music event.


Three of the music series have announced their shows for the 2024 season:

Note: Friday Night Live is the only series that includes an opening act. There is also a large tent so that the show can go on when if it rains.

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