What: High Times Cannabis Cup Canada featuring Wyclef Jean, Lil' Kim, House of Pain, Magic!, Sloan and more
When: Thursday through Sunday
Where: Laketown Ranch Music and Recreation Park, 8811-2 Youbou Rd., Lake Cowichan
Tickets: $54-$103.75 daily, or $183.75 for a festival pass
It has been a strange journey to the stage for High Times Cannabis Cup Canada, a new festival that will be unveiled tonight in Lake Cowichan.
The four-day event, held on the Sunfest Country Music Festival site at Laketown Ranch Music and Recreation Park, has been on a rapid trajectory during the past two weeks, following news of its purchase by the cannabis-friendly company behind High Times magazine.
Grammy Award-winning artist Wyclef Jean was suddenly added as a headliner last week and will make his Vancouver Island debut on Sunday. The former Fugees frontman joins previously announced rock and rap acts Magic!, House of Pain and Sloan, among others, on the bill.
On Wednesday, it was announced that rapper and former Dancing with the Stars contestant Lil’ Kim will perform on Saturday. Another headliner is expected to be announced today.
“There will be another announcement, I just don’t know when it’s going to happen. We might even do it as a surprise,” said Jon Cappetta, the festival’s media relations representative from High Times magazine. But, he said, the performer would “qualify as bananas.”
Cappetta said the act is of the “household name” variety, adding further intrigue to what has already been one of the most unusual lead-ups to a local festival.
An injury on Aug. 10 to bassist Vincent Price of Body Count, the heavy metal group fronted by rapper-actor Ice-T, resulted in a string of cancelled dates, including an appearance at the High Times Cannabis Cup Canada. Forgotten Rebels, a punk band from Hamilton, Ont., was also advertised to appear, but has since been removed from the festival banner. The group said it was “dropped from the lineup. . . without a publicly given reason.”
Both bands were bookings by the previous organizers, prior to the purchase by High Times.
It has been suggested by supporters of the Forgotten Rebels that the tongue-in-cheek band was removed for political reasons. The band’s Facebook profile picture features a Confederate battle flag, while some of its controversial songs include titles such as Nazis and Reich ’n’ Roll.
“The reason why they are not going to be involved is because they did not have a signed contract,” Cappetta said. “After we bought the show, [the contract] never came back to us, so there was no deal.”
The four-day event — which also features a three-day cannabis growers’ exhibition — made it debut last year at Laketown Ranch as the Legends Valley Music Festival, and was set to return under the same banner (and with the same Vancouver-based owners) until two weeks ago. Following a last-minute purchase by the holding company that recently acquired a controlling stake in High Times magazine, the event was rebranded High Times Cannabis Cup Canada.
Among the group of investors who purchased the Los Angeles-based media company and its affiliated properties — which includes High Times Cannabis Cup Canada — is Damian Marley, son of reggae legend Bob Marley.
“The whole Island should be excited to have a production of this level coming here,” said Mike Hann, venue manager of Laketown Ranch.
“It’s garnering huge buzz internationally. It’s exciting for people in this region to have something like this identify Laketown Ranch and this region as an area they want to be operating in. It bodes well for the future.”
High Times Cannabis Cups are among the world’s leading marijuana trade shows, and are held annually in Jamaica, Las Vegas, Amsterdam and elsewhere. This weekend’s cup and festival will mark the first time the competition and product showcase has been held in Canada.
“Right now, it’s the only Cannabis Cup in Canada,” Cappetta said. “But I’m not going to rule out doing something else there in the future.”
The festival is only open to those aged 19 and up. As for the legal ramifications of marijuana products being sold and consumed on site, only those with a medical document proving they have access to cannabis for medical purposes will be able to purchase plants, extracts or edibles. Products from some exhibitors will be accessible to all festivalgoers, but the secured area around the cannabis exhibitors’ village will not.
“Setting one of these things up is a little bit of a challenge, because we’re not just having a booze festival,” Cappetta said. “This is very much done in accordance with the law.”
From music festivals to cannabis cups, the High Times brand will be active.
“We’re growing everything right now,” Cappetta said. “There have been some amazing rabbits pulled out of the hat to make some over-the-top stuff happen. The rabbits will only get bigger with the more time we have to plan.”
With all the activity at this weekend’s High Times Cannabis Cup Canada, fans are sure to miss out on some of the musical magic.
The key for beleaguered campers staying put for the full four days is to maximize their concertgoing. Plenty of highlights will arise — some of the performers on the bill have never been through these parts, while others are doing so for the first time in years — but you’ll need to be wise with your time in order to catch them.
We’re here to help. Here are five performers that should not be missed:
1. Magic! This massive Toronto-bred, Los Angeles-based pop group should be a fitting closer on Friday night, as the quartet creates sing-along summer music like few others at the moment (the band’s big hit, Rude, has 1.4 billion — yes, billion — views on YouTube, placing it among the most-viewed videos in history.) Magic! may be the lone pop offering at the festival, but chances are they will surprise some people. Friday, 8:45 p.m.
2. House of Pain. A reunited Everlast and DJ Lethal are celebrating the 25th anniversary of their star-making debut with a stop in Lake Cowichan, the Los Angeles rap group’s first Vancouver Island appearance. Appearances by the group’s third founding member, Danny Boy, have been rare over the summer, but the presence of Everlast is all fans will need in order to sing along with some of the most quotable lyrics in hip-hop history. Friday, 11 p.m.
3. Delinquent Habits. East L.A. hip-hop duo Delinquent Habits will fit in well with a festival of this kind, given their long association with marijuana proponents Cypress Hill. The band earned kudos for its 1996 debut, and the hit Tres Delinquentes, but group founders Ives Irie and Kemo the Blaxican are still making music in 2017, so the group’s local debut has sleeper-hit potential. Saturday, 5:15 p.m.
4. Dayglo Abortions. The Dayglos aren’t as active locally as they once were, but watching these Victoria punk legends make their big-stage festival debut around these parts will be a sight to see, indeed. Regardless of their oft-controversial content, they can still make some noise in concert; at the very least, the Dayglos will be provocative. Saturday, 8 p.m.
5. Wyclef Jean. When he was at the helm of the Fugees, the Haitian performer was one of the biggest stars in hip hop. Reunions featuring
ex-Fugees Lauryn Hill and Pras do not appear to be on the horizon, however; Wyclef’s eighth solo album, The Carnival Vol. III, is due next month. With several of his notable singles as a solo artist, including Gone till November, in his set Sunday, Wyclef’s Vancouver Island debut is not to be missed. Sunday, 4:15 p.m.