Passenger will play Vancouver Island MusicFest July 14. Photo by Jarrad Seng

Passenger added to Vancouver Island MusicFest lineup

Scheduled to play the main stage Saturday evening

Calling him “this generation’s Cat Stevens,” Vancouver Island MusicFest executive producer Doug Cox has announced Passenger as the next headlining act for this summer’s three-day festival at the Comox Valley Exhibition Grounds.

Cox added it was “this generation” that introduced him to Passenger.

“I kept hearing this wonderful music coming out of my (19-year-old) daughter Caileigh’s bedroom,” he said. “Quite often, she turns me onto what’s going on with music — as all my kids do. This was a couple of years ago now, but every time I heard her playing his music, I found myself asking her who it was, because I really liked him a lot.

“I found out that he had been interested in playing some of the festivals, so I put an offer in on him. When I told them he would be sharing the stage with Ry Cooder, not surprisingly, I heard back very quickly that he wanted to come.”

Passenger will play on Saturday evening, July 14.

Passenger (Michael David Rosenberg) took his name from the band he fronted last decade. When the band, Passenger, disbanded in 2009, he opted to keep the band name for his solo work.

Passenger is well known for his impromptu busking performances, not only through the streets of London, but worldwide.

“I had no idea how huge he was until I started watching some of his videos, and there are some videos out there of him performing in front of 100,000 people at different events,” said Cox. “I’m really thrilled that we got him, and that we got somebody who’s a younger performer, who will also resonate with the baby boomers.”

The 33-year-old Englishman has already produced nine studio albums (including Wicked Man’s Rest, with the band), and his song, Let Her Go, was a chart-topper in countries around the world.

Although Cox has never seen Passenger in person, he comes highly recommended.

“He’s played the Edmonton Folk Festival and I heard from the people that run that festival, and people who saw him there, and they all said he was incredible. The people I have talked to all said the show is fantastic.”

With Walk Off The Earth headlining the Friday, July 13 lineup, and now Passenger on Saturday, Cox has made a concerted effort to reach as vast an audience as possible.

More Canadian acts announced

“There are also a lot of other young bands playing the festival this year,” said Cox.

Recently announced acts include Canadian rockers The Royal North (from Prince Edward Island) and Nice Horse, a female country band from Calgary.

“The Royal North … they’re like if the guys from Trailer Park Boys started a rock band,” said Cox.

“When you first see these guys it’ll make you laugh. They look like a motorcycle gang. But then you listen to them and you realize that,‘Wow, these guys are really good,’ in the spirit of Rush, and Loverboy – classic Canadian rock bands.

“As for Nice Horse, I saw them at a conference and they kind of reminded me of a young Dixie Chicks.”

Cox went to his reliable youth source for additional input on Nice Horse.

“I went home and I played it for all three of my daughters … and they all said, ‘Book them immediately. They’re great.’ ”

Sunday’s lineup is yet to be announced.

Weekend passes are available at the MusicFest site.

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