Parksville sisters Fahlon and Ramiah Smith grew up attending the Vancouver Island MusicFest in Comox Valley, and they will be attending once again this year, but this time as performers.
Fahlon, 21, said they found out a few months ago that they would be one of the acts this year. She said she had worked with Doug Cox, the artistic director of the Vancouver Island MusicFest, last summer at the Errington World Music Youth Camp.
“We worked with him for five days, so we got to know him a bit over the course of that week, and it came up that we had a duo together and he asked us to send him some recordings,” Fahlon said.
Since January, Fahlon said they have been going back and forth trying make plans.
“He was really generous in offering us a spot for this summer because we’re just starting out we don’t have a huge portfolio yet,” Fahlon said. “We’re kind of building it, so he was really nice in offering us a spot and inviting us to play there after meeting us last summer.”
Ramiah said she and her sister have been performing together for about two years, adding that they’ve done little shows such as local markets.
“It’s crazy to think of how far we’ve come in such a short amount of time because we haven’t been together for very long,” Ramiah said.
Fahlon said she and Ramiah have always sung together growing up, but their duo the Westerly Sisters is still a bit new.
“I think Ramiah kind of found her own interest because my (other) sister and I kind of saturated the music part of things,” Fahlon said. “So she went off and did her own things, but I always wanted Ramiah to learn to play an instrument — we sang a lot together — but I wanted her to play and instrument, so that we could play together as well.”
As the Westerly Sisters, Ramiah plays the guitar and Fahlon plays the viola.
“The (viola’s) register is a bit deeper than the violin, so I find it really compliments the guitar nicely because I can play baselines,” Fahlon said.
Ramiah, 17, said she taught herself to play the guitar initially.
“I always sang with Fahlon and I really wanted to start singing again, so I thought I could just sing along with the guitar,” Ramiah said. “I just picked that up and tried a little bit at first and kind of just kept with it and then I got a couple lessons.”
Along with playing the guitar, Ramiah said she writes the music for the duo with some help from Fahlon.
I’ve always been very vocal and everything, so I’ve always had my own things to say and everything, so I just wanted to express that in my own music and Fahlon helped me a lot with writing,”Ramiah said.
Fahlon said their music is a mix of styles.
“Ramiah likes country and we’ve gone to festivals and things so folk is definitely in there and I think a bit of pop,” Fahlon said.
Originally, the Westerly Sisters covered a lot of bands that played at Vancouver Island MusicFest.
“I think I got inspired a lot from the music festivals, so it’s really neat to be actually playing there,” Ramiah said.
Fahlon and Ramiah will be playing at Vancouver Island MusicFest on Saturday, July 9 at 10 a.m. on the Grierson Stage and at 3:30 p.m. at the Barn. On Sunday, July 10, the Westerly Sisters will be performing at 11 a.m. on the Woodland Stage.
To find out about tickets, visit www.islandmusicfest.com/tickets.