Photo Credit: Vancouver Island MusicFest

Vancouver Island MusicFest Goes Virtual

The show must go on

The festival will be largely Island-focused with a combination of emerging artists and local music veterans

Vancouver Island MusicFest is back this year with a virtual edition after being cancelled last summer due to COVID-19.

Running July 9-11, this year’s edition of one of Vancouver Island’s longest-running music festivals will feature 25 hours of programming streamed from Friday night to Sunday.

With international travel restricted, the line-up will be largely Island-focused with a combination of emerging artists and local music veterans. Among them will be well-known performers, like gifted Cumberland songwriter, music producer, and bandleader Corwin Fox, Hornby Island jazz guitarist Marc Atkinson, and Comox folk singer and guitarist Helen Austin.

New to the festival, Caley Watts, a young singer/songwriter from Bella Coola, will be performing as part of the indigenous showcase curated by Leonard Sumner.“I really think she will be making some waves in the world once people know about her. She’s pretty special,” said long time MusicFest executive producer and dobro guitar virtuoso Doug Cox for a recent story in the Comox Valley Echo.

Blues singer Angel Forrest, another featured performer, isn’t new to the industry but is a recent arrival to the region, having spent the entire pandemic on Hornby Island. Forrest, who takes the virtual stage Friday night, was just nominated for a Juno Award, her first such honour in a three-decade-long career.

“She’s sort of a Janis Joplin-type singer – just a powerhouse,” said Cox. “She’s new to the festival.”

Austin, Texas, session musician Jeff Plankenhorn is another big name with newly established local roots in Comox Valley.  

“He has played the festival before as a side man, but this will be his first feature performance,” Cox says.

Vancouver Island MusicFest has roots going back almost four decades.

In normal times, this live, in-person event is held on the grassy fields, and forested stages of the Comox Valley Exhibition Grounds next to the Tsolum River and draws up to 10,000 music fans.

For a full list of performers and their showtimes, go to