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Karina Chronicles

Best Fest: Bella Coola

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KD Helen bioHelen Austin is a singer, songwriter, and classically trained musician. Originally from the UK, Helen now resides on Vancouver Island with her family.  You can follow her shenanigans on her FacebookTwitter, or see her on Youtube.


This year I was asked to go to Bella Coola to MC and play at their annual music festival. For those who don’t know, Bella Coola is up past the north of Vancouver Island and is either a flight, loooong car journey or a 13 hour ferry ride. We chose the latter. When I mentioned to my husband that Daisy and I had been asked to play he immediately said that he and Charlie were coming too. It’s always great to do these things with the whole family.

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The three hour drive to Port Hardy was beautiful and from the moment we stepped on the ferry we knew that it was going to be an amazing experience. The ferry crew were hilarious and between them and the whale and dolphin announcements, not to mention the fact that it was BBQ day, the thirteen hours went by quickly and before we knew it, we were in Bella Coola, being picked up and whisked away to our first night in a lovely lodge.

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The next day we headed over to our accommodation for the rest of the weekend which was a cabin on the beautiful Rip Rap campsite. We had this gorgeous cabin all to ourselves and the scenery was stunning!

Bella Coola with Trent Freeman

We had the day to hang out before a really nice gig at the legion across the road.

The next day was day one of the festival, and we were kicking the whole thing off with a family concert which meant the Charlie got to play his first proper concert, including playing fiddle and singing backing vocals, which he does scarily well!

At 5 pm, I started my MC slot and performed a set with Daisy. Little did Daisy know that I had organized a surprise for her with Trent Freeman, a close family friend, who just happens to play with The Fretless who were also performing at the the festival.

Daisy wrote a new fiddle tune in June and I had sent it to Trent to learn so he could surprise her by joining her on stage to play it. Trent is an inspiration to a whole generation of fiddlers in the Comox Valley, including Daisy, so this was a thrill for her. We had so much fun with it! He then stayed on stage and played another tune with us!!

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Day two of the festival, started with us again and this time with talented Ivonne Hernandez from The Fretless. Ivonne got Daisy to join her on some fiddle tunes but when she started them they were so fast that I thought that there is no way Daisy can play these. But then Ivonne told Daisy to take the tune while she played a harmony and to mine and Daisy’s surprise, Daisy rose to the challenge and played them really well. I was SO proud.

kD coolaZIt was so great to hang out with The Fretless, Locarno, Scott Cook and all the other bands. I have to say a HUGE thank you to the festival, the great drivers who got us everywhere on time, Rip Rap campsite and especially have to mention the food for the musicians. It was incredible. All fresh, local and so tasty!! We were SO well looked after.

I took a photo from the stage and have to say that it has to be the best stage view ever!

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