Victoria band Current Swell is headlining Longwoodstock at Longwood Brewery on Sept. 21. (Photo courtesy Mike Pepperdine)

Longwoodstock festival brings the beer, bands and ‘backyard party’ vibes

Annual beer and music festival now extended to two days

Longwood Brewery’s Longwoodstock beer and music festival is back for its fifth year, and this time attendees will get to enjoy the sounds and the suds for twice as long.

This year Longwoodstock starts on Sept. 20 with its new Brew and Chew event, featuring 14 Island beer, wine and cider producers, food from Coco Café and a musical line-up headlined by Victoria’s Capital Collective, a 15-piece ska jazz supergroup featuring members of Island bands like Current Swell, Lovecoast and Jon and Roy.

The following afternoon Longwoodstock continues with a series of concerts headlined by Current Swell.

“Basically Friday is going to be a beer and food festival with music, while Saturday is going to be a music festival with food and beer,” said saxophonist and keyboardist Matt Carter, who will perform on the Friday with Capital Collective and Saturday with his band Dope Soda.

Carter is a returning Longwoodstock performer. He describes the event as “the first central Island beer festival.”

“It’s definitely the grandest, funkiest backyard party that Nanaimo puts on…” he said, adding, “People on the Island love craft beer and they love great music, so why not pair the two together?”

Longwoodstock festival director and Dope Soda member Dave St. Jean said the festival is getting bigger every year, but organizers are striving to keep that backyard feel.

“There are so many festivals these days, it’s almost like they try to go really big right out of the gate and then after a while they kind of run out of steam, almost,” he said. “So we’re trying to slowly keep it interesting every year, but not enough that we’re going to lose ourselves in it. It’s still mainly the vibe of a backyard party.”

Louis Sadava of Victoria group Current Swell said it’s been years since his band has played Nanaimo, although they used to come to the Queen’s “semi-regularly.” Sadava said the band will be treating the Longwoodstock crowd to a couple new songs from the group’s upcoming album, which he said is all done and set to come out in October.

Sadava said the record’s been in the works for the past 10 months, with the band recording parts and weeks later returning to take time to revisit their ideas with “fresh ears.”

“We’ve gone through different iterations of songs where we overthink, where we go down these weird rabbit holes,” he said. “We’d spend like eight hours trying to get the perfect backwards piano sound and then a month later we’re like, ‘What were we thinking? We got a little weird that day,’ and have trashed a bunch of stuff.”

One of the new tunes they’ll be featuring is High Life, “a good summertime jam” released as the record’s first single. Sadava said the song was inspired by an outdoor festival the group attended in Vancouver’s Stanley Park.

“We were just talking about watching bands in the big city … and listening to music that makes you forget about that and feel like you’re just living your best life on the beach,” he said. “Or you just kind of forget about the hustle and bustle and just really feel the song.”

WHAT’S ON … Longwoodstock takes place at the Longwood Brewery, 101A-2046 Boxwood Rd., on Sept. 20 from 5 to 9 p.m. and Sept. 21 from 3 to 9 p.m. Tickets for the Friday Brew and Chew are $60 (including food and five sample drink tokens), $45 for Saturday. Available online in advance. 19-plus event.

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