John Reischman and the Jaybirds.

John Reischman and the Jaybirds.

Bluegrass extravaganza coming

July 16 in Chemainus

Organizers of the Chemainus Bluegrass Festival have some exciting news for music fans.

Festival organizer Bob Johns recently announced that John Reischman and the Jaybirds, one of the most respected bands in the bluegrass world, completes the lineup of six bands coming to Chemainus on July 16 at Waterwheel Park.

Mandolin player John Reischman cut his teeth with such well-known groups as the California-based Tony Rice Unit.

Gaining much respect for his mastery of the mandolin, Reischman went on to form his own group, the Jaybirds.

Five other great bands will also be performing throughout the day. Mandolin player Ira Pelletier of Nanaimo has made Chemainus appearances in the past, along with his group Skagway.

“If you’ve ever heard Ira’s playing, you know that you won’t want to miss this performance,” said Johns.

Johns plays guitar in the Bluegrass Fever band. He says that he’s pleased to be surrounded by such talent.

“Victoria-based banjo star Barrie Hemmings was recruited just two days after he arrived on Vancouver Island from Ontario, before any other bands could tempt him. Hemmings has a lifetime of banjo-picking experience, including several years with the original, Ontario-based “Bluegrass Fever.”

The Cowichan Valley’s own Bryon Clayton Thomas will need no introduction to Vancouver Island bluegrass fans. This group fills the house everywhere they play.

From Sidney, B.C., the Corner Grass band will provide some wonderful entertainment. Fiddler Jim Sadlish played years ago as an orchestral violinist, but he now loves the creativity and spontaneity of bluegrass music. Clarence Boudreau started playing guitar as a youthful teenager in his hometown of Sydney, Nova Scotia. Clarence is also an award-winning fiddler and has played with such international stars as Vassar Clements and Mark O’Connor.

“Our final band will be a special treat, added Johns, “Island Blue Rose, from the Qualicum area, is a busy, all-female band. Linda, Sharon, Kaz and Luann will wow you with their performance.”

Johns says local individuals, businesses and organizations are stepping forward to ensure this inaugural festival is a success.

“The Chemainus Business Improvement Association will be helping with some of the costs of the festival, in particular, the printing the festival programs, he said.

“And we’re pleased to welcome the first three sponsors, Small World Bed & Breakfast, The Pottery Store and the Best Western Chemainus Inn.”

The cost to attend is just a suggested $10 for the admission by donation strategy. The festival needs plenty of people, and plenty of $10 donations, to pay for bands of the quality that have been hired,” Johns said.

“This festival is comparable to the very best music events, and has a suggested donation for admission which is just a small fraction of the amount charged by other festivals of this calibre.

Johns is looking for volunteer help. He would like to hear from people willing to assist with the festival.

“The work will not be hard, nor will it take away from your enjoyment of the festival.”

Visit the festival website at, or call Bob at 250-246-1389.