Solo set: front men take centre stage at VIEX

Alan Frew and Dallas Smith headline separate nights at Nanaimo's annual agricultural fair

Alan Frew performs Saturday night of Vancouver Island Exhibition in Nanaimo.

Alan Frew performs Saturday night of Vancouver Island Exhibition in Nanaimo.

Alan Frew and Dallas Smith set up a one-two punch as headline performers at this year’s Vancouver Island Exhibition.

Smith, who spent a decade at the front of the popular rock band Default, changes gears and turns his solo efforts to country music.

To Smith, country music has always been about the special combination of voice and song and he travelled to Nashville to work with some of the best in country music for his first solo album Jumped Right In.

His performance caps off a Friday lineup on the mainstage that begins in the morning at 11 a.m. with folk legend Valdy, who won two Juno Awards, recorded 13 albums and had his songs recorded by artists in all types of music genres.

At 1 p.m., Que Bola Magic adds a bit of unreality to the show with a series of illusions. Hope King, 17-year-old from the Cowichan Valley, performs her mix of old and new country at 3 p.m. At 5:30 p.m., Damian Marshall performs music from his album Built to Last. The Jardines, a roots, country and pop mother-daughter duo, perform at 7:30 p.m. Smith wraps up the country-themed night  at 9:30 p.m.

Audiences get to do it all over again on Saturday, beginning with Que Bola Magic at 11 a.m. and followed by The Steady at 1 p.m., a Nanaimo-based quartet who write simple, clear rock songs.

The music continues with The Royal Canadians at 3 p.m., a group of teens making waves since recording their first album. At 5:30 p.m., pop-rock group Afterglow performs, followed by father-son rock trio Braeden Marshall at 7 p.m.

The night wraps up with Alan Frew at 9 p.m., more commonly known as the lead singer for Glass Tiger.

The Juno Award-winner and Grammy nominee has two albums out under his solo banner.

He also wrote the theme song I Believe for the 2010 Winter Olympics, which became a number 1 hit in record-breaking time. He also wrote the new theme for the Toronto Maple Leafs hockey team called Free to Be (This is Canada’s Song).

On Sunday, an afternoon of music starts with the annual VIEX Vocal Challenge at 10:30 a.m., followed by another performance by Que Bola Magic at 12:15 p.m.

Twins Carli and Julie Kennedy pick up the fiddle and the guitar to perform original country music, beginning at 1:45 p.m.

The day wraps up with a tribute to Etta James, sung by Jona Kristinsson at 3:15 p.m.

That’s not it for entertainment, though – a community festival stage runs Thursday to Sunday (Aug. 16-19) and features performances by music groups, square dancers, jazz quartets, bellydancers, children’s entertainer Rick Scott, clowns, Taekwondo demonstrations and a pie-eating contest.

More performances and demonstration groups take place throughout the fair.

The fair opens Thursday, with opening ceremonies set for 6:30 p.m. Admission for opening night is a non-perishable donation to the food bank. For the rest of the weekend, admission ranges from $4-$11.

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