Thursday, December 03, 2015

I Believe in Music I Believe in Love

I Believe in Music - Gallery
(from one of the first albums I ever owned)

What a week it was! Epic for me - 5 concerts in seven days. It didn't start off to be a marathon but when the musical bug just have to go with it! I follow the music to where it takes me. 

Last month I saw Carleton Stone and his new band Port Cities, Alvvays and Alana Yorke to name a few when I volunteered with the Halifax Pop Explosion. I also attended the Nova Scotia Symphony for a performance conducted by Howard Cable and a public performance at the museum. And I saw Kevin Kane (of Grapes of Wrath fame) and Bryan Potvin (of The Northern Pikes) who are now collaborating. 

Coming soon...Matthew Good and Great Lake Swimmers and a re-schedule for In-Flight Safety

Groundswell Music Festival

This was the inaugural year for the Groundswell Music Festival and was the brainchild of Rawlins Cross piper Ian McKinnon. It seems that there were two local bands wishing to hold events in celebration of their upcoming CD releases. That's a party in the making! With a little extra effort it became a weekend of celebrating local music, food and drink. 

Chef Live came on board offering 3 locally sourced dishes and for the record the Lobster Mac and Cheese could have held a stage on its own for the tasters cheered as loud for this dish as for some of the music. Ok, not really but you get that it was really good right :)

Jost Wineries and Garrison Brewery jumped aboard to make sure that the festival goers remained well hydrated. Garrison even developed a special brew they coined Modus HOPerandi to honour the Stanfields new release.

But none of that, as good as it was in the end, was the reason that I attended the Groundswell Music Festival. I saw the poster on what has become my most reliable news source for the local entertainment scene - the telephone pole on the street. Rawlins Cross, The Stanfields and the Town Heroes were headlining. I knew I had to be there somehow. 

As soon as I got home, I looked up the website and sent an email offering my services as volunteer extraordinaire. I have the enthusiasm to be sure!  

The first night, I got to the Olympic Hall in plenty of time to meet some of my fellow volunteers and set up our station. I felt almost giddy as I watched musicians, radio personalities and fans mill about. From the vantage point of selling food and drink tickets to guests, it was amazing to see the enthusiasm from other fans as well. Is it as hard for anyone else to not run up to their idols and gush about how much you enjoy their work/performance?

Hillsburn was the opening act on that first night and I'm not going to make the mistake of saying if they are from Lower Musquodoboit Harbour or Upper or even Middle - because I was schooled enough to know there is a difference and don't mix them up. Let's just say they are a local band. Articles I had read previously called them one of the "must see" bands and they weren't kidding. There was high energy stage presence accompanying the pop-folk style of song. Interestingly, making this festival a real family affair, one of the founding members of Hillsburn Clayton Burrill (who's sister is lead singer Rosanna) was the volunteer coordinator. Thanks for the opportunity to be a part of this inaugural event. I'll be back again to help out and to see Hillsburn!

I knew Rawlins Cross and had been listening to them for many years, but had never before had the chance to see a live performance. The band that formed in Newfoundland had their first hit back in 1989 when their release "Colleen" made the top 10 for alternative Toronto radio station CFNY. Heavy on the bagpipes it was like nothing before on mainstream (or alternative) Canadian radio. For the next ten years, the album count grew to 6 and the awards and accolades piled on. And then there was a hiatus. This performance was part of the revival of Rawlins Cross and I am thrilled I was a part of it. It's amazing to watch Ian McKinnon seamlessly switch between playing the pipes to the tin flute and back within a single tune. Rock fused with the bagpipes is a genre that is of its own and the energy from the stage is quickly transformed onto the dance floor. You just cannot sit still. I sat at my table, feet dancing and counting change to the beat! 

The second night of the festival, I found myself at my same post eagerly awaiting another fabulous night of music, food and drink. I got to know one of my fellow volunteers a bit more and learned that he is an aspiring musician as well and connected with many of the festival organizers himself. Buy those drums my friend and play those drums and maybe I'll see you on stage one day too. Where it is a career or a sideline, music matters in life. 

This was not my first time seeing The Mike Bochoff Band, the first was earlier this year at the In the Dead of Winter Festival. One of the things that really impresses me about this band is that Mike remembers me. That says a lot considering all the people a musician encounters at the many shows they perform. I made a point of talking with Mike on each occasion I saw him to share my enthusiasm for his music. His on-stage presence is really high energy and you can tell he loves it up there! And I was thrilled that I got to hear my favourite song of theirs "The Death Song." Amazing.

After a brief intermission, The Town Heroes took the stage and to my surprise (never having seen them before) they are a duo. There are two phrases that are often associated with The Town Heroes, 1) they try to make the most noise two Cape Bretoners can make and 2) they host a party you wish you were at. And they delivered on both counts on this night. They were celebrating the release of their new CD "Please, Everyone" and celebrate they did. The energy in the room was contagious. This was truly a festival to celebrate the music and as I mentioned before there were many artists in attendance. During the final set of songs, they were all invited up on stage to join in the singing and partying. There were members of the Stanfields, Hillsburn, Rawlins Cross and of course the Mike Bochoff Band - that I recognized as a mass on stage. It was a rousing end to a fabulous evening.  

In The Dead of Winter

To be clear this wasn't the festival itself but a fundraising show leading up to the main event in January. The Company House was the setting for this dine and song event. Matthew Hornell was on stage with a fellow musician he has recently been touring with, Andrew Sneddon. It was a low-key acoustic set. The audience was too small for such a fabulous performance in my opinion. But the people that were there were very appreciative of the Bluegrass folk music and the banter between the two musicians on stage as they alternately shared stories of the songs origins or learning to play them. I was there for the music and so was most of the audience oh and the food which was cooking as we listened. It was like sitting in the living room of a private home, the audience could easily interact with talent onstage. It was a more personal experience. I loved hearing the backstories of some of the songs. I hope to return to support some of the other artists featured for more Soup and Song. 

Grey Lands and Elliot BROOD

Back to my favourite musical venue in the city The Carleton Music Bar and Grill for a mid week performance. I almost didn't go to this show as it had already been a busy week as I had just celebrated another turn around the sun and was feeling it. 

I became aware of Grey Lands during a YouTube search one day quite some time ago. Wayne Petti of Cuff the Duke fame had branched off to do some solo work and had collaborated with some heavy hitters on the Canadian music scene like Greg Keelor and Joel Plaskett. The songs were amazing and although I knew I wouldn't be hearing those specific duets, I decided to go anyway. I have not seen Cuff the Duke live, but I have seen Wayne Petti, before I knew who he was. He had been a guest artist at one of the first Blue Rodeo shows I saw. I didn't know who he was but it didn't take long to figure out, and he has shown up as a guest at other Blue Rodeo appearances. It was that very first encounter that we talked about after his show that night. As for Grey Lands the band...go see Wayne in whatever form he takes, you won't be sorry.

It is my practice to not research a new artist before I go and see them as I like to keep an open mind. I have found that some artists I like recorded I don't like as much live and vice versa. So all I had to go on before Elliot BROOD hit the stage was the enthusiasm of my bar mates and indeed the owner of the Carleton himself. And they seemed normal enough as they sat further down the bar having a bite to eat :). The music was loud and edgy with a country feel especially with the banjo picking. For most of the double set, guitarist Casey Laforet sat on a case, making the whole show feel a little more intimate. A bunch of people sitting around in a living room just jamming - the Carleton itself helps with that sensation. Mark Sasso on the vocals and banjo took the music to that next level and his passion was evident. CBC Music had this to say about the band, "Death Country - dark, gritty folk soul music built around whiskey - drenched vocals and lyrics evoking images of love, loss and murder". I might agree with that for the live performance but I heard something beneath the grit and when I researched some of the songs I heard when I got home, my instinct was true. Check out Northern Air and I think you will agree. 

Yukon Blonde and Hey Rosetta!

This was another of those last minute ticket purchase. Not in last minute as before the show but rather last minute before they sold out. I don't think there is a bad seat in the house at the Rebecca Cohn Auditorium, so I was happy to get whatever was available. It was a little easier because I was only looking for one seat. I lucked out with an edge seat about 15 rows back. 

Yukon Blonde was the opening act. Although they have been working the Alternative musical scene for a number of years, they only recently had their first rock hit with "Stairway". Yukon Blonde sure knows how to work an audience though, for most of their set they had the audience up and moving, clapping and helping to sing. It was a high energy performance that culminated with the "I hear you callin' out" refrain echoed throughout the auditorium.

Limited Edition signed and numbered poster
The main act was Hey Rosetta! an east coast favourite band hailing from Newfoundland. The young lady beside me was eager to share her enthusiasm for this band with me. She was thrilled with their live performance and still in awe of how they fit all seven band members on the stage with all the equipment and instruments. The stage was decorated with strategically placed bare bulb light fixtures that lit up with varying intensity seemingly in time with the music and every time they did the audience was quick to show their appreciation. It was really cool looking and adding to the performance. One of the absolutely amazing things about this band is their musical ability. Every band member played several instruments and often moved to another part of the stage to switch roles with other members. The cellist made room for the violinist to take her place on the keyboard while he held onto the cello. Although founder Tim Baker is the lead singer, he also wears several instrumental hats, including keys and guitar. With the addition of strings, horns, keys, and various percussion to the standard band, with Hey Rosetta! you get a high energy performance with many layers of musical bliss - like a phyllo pastry desert that you don't enjoy sitting still. 

The encore for this show saw Yukon Blonde return to the stage to perform the "duet" with Hey Rosetta! that became an Anti-Harper protest song before the recent federal election in Canada. Entitled Land That You Love, it was great to hear it live! 


A few pictures follow the Credits and Links

Credits and Links:
Carleton Stone -
Port Cities -
Alvvays -
Alana Yorke -
Halifax Pop Explosion -
Nova Scotia Symphony -
Howard Cable -
Kevin Kane -
Grapes of Wrath -
Bryan Potvin -
Northern Pikes -
Matthew Good -
Great Lakes Swimmers -
In-Flight Safety -
Groundswell Music Festival -
Chef Live -
Jost Wineries -
Garrison Brewery -
The Stanfields              -
Hillsburn -
Rawlins Cross -
Mike Bochoff Band -
In the Dead of Winter Festival
The Town Heroes -
The Company House -
Matthew Hornell -
with Andrew Sneddon -           hornell-andrew-sneddon/
The Carleton Music Bar and Grill -
Grey Lands -
Cuff the Duke -
Blue Rodeo -
Greg Keelor -
Joel Plaskett -
Elliot BROOD -
CBC music!/artists/Elliott-BROOD
Northern Air
Rebecca Cohn Auditorium -
Yukon Blonde -
Stairway -
Hey Rosetta! -
Land That You Love -         v=ZnU8V7gsjok

Kevin Kane (l) Grapes of Wrath and Bryan Potvin (r) of Northern Pikes

Groundswell Music Festival


Rawlins Cross

Mike Bochoff Band

The Town Heroes

The Town Heroes and Friends

Andrew Sheddon (l) and Matt Hornell

Grey Lands with Wayne Petti (c)

Elliot BROOD minus drummer (sorry)

Yukon Blonde

Hey Rosetta!
Enjoy the pictures but please don't steal them...thanks!