Stompin' good Barn Dance times with Appaloosa

Annual hoedown set for Saturday at old community centre

The first time Appaloosa performed at the Pemberton Barn Dance, years ago, frontman Jake Stolz remembers hitting the stage around 9 p.m. and playing the first couple of songs to about 15 people - mostly staff.

He said he was thinking it was going to be a long and unpleasant night when all of a sudden a bus pulled up, and out came dozens of people who were ready to party. More buses showed up in short order, and suddenly the potato barn was bumpin'.

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"It was like a beer commercial," Stolz said. "We had a great time."

For 14 years, the Pemberton Barn Dance has been a fun night to let loose your inner cowboy or cowgirl and enjoy some foot-stomping music and good times. After being incorporated with last summer's massive Pemberton Festival, the Barn Dance is back this year as a standalone event on Saturday (Aug. 8) on the fields at the old community centre.

Appaloosa is returning to headline the party, and Stolz promised a variety of upbeat cover tunes that will get people up and dancing. The Lower Mainland-based band has a huge repertoire ranging from Johnny Cash and Tim McGraw to the Doobie Brothers and Santana.

"We want to please as many people as possible," Stolz said of the band's wide range of tunes. "We do a real mix of country and classic rock."

People at the Barn Dance might even hear an original tune or two - Stolz said he's been writing actively and working on a new CD.

Appaloosa has been in demand on the club circuit and as entertainment and corporate events and weddings since Stolz formed the band in 1991. The current lineup includes Psam Frank on keyboards, mandolin and vocals, Chris Hill on bass and vocals and Rick McVicar on drums and vocals. The members take turns on lead vocals, and many songs include vocal harmonies.

Over the years the band has had the opportunity to open for greats such as Johnny Cash at the Merritt Mountain Music Festival, as well as Dwight Yoakam, Pam Tillis, Neil McCoy, Marty Stuart and others. Stolz said it's been great to meet some country music legends, and they've all been really nice people who were interested in Appaloosa.

Stolz is busy in other aspects of the music business as well, as a sound technician and interviewer on Canadian Music Radio, but he said he continues with Appaloosa because "it's what I love to do."

He said the trick to making a band work in the long run is to be versatile and pay attention to what people want. For example, Appaloosa tailors its set list on the fly depending on how the crowd is responding to certain genres or songs.

Slap on your best cowboy hat and boots and dance the night away to the upbeat tunes of Appaloosa on Saturday (Aug. 8) at the Pemberton Barn Dance. Also performing live are Sam Field, Pierre Eady and Gordo.

The Barn Dance is set for the sports fields at the old community centre on Pemberton Meadows Road. Organizers said the nearest wildfire is about 30 kilometres away, so as of this writing, there was no danger to the public.

Gates open at 8 p.m. and public transit service runs from Whistler to Pemberton every 40 minutes or so starting at 8 p.m. Return trips also run every 40 minutes until 2 a.m. from Pemberton. There is no parking on site - shuttles are offered from Signal Hill Elementary and Pemberton Secondary for park-and-ride service.

Barn Dance tickets are $35 and can be purchased with cash only at The Question office in Marketplace, the Squamish Chief office, Pemberton Esso, Pemberton Valley Supermarket, the Legion and the Scotiabank in Pemberton.

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