Posted by on 26 July 2009

An audience member blog


Day 2 and the weather is holding. It would be too hot if we were not on an island being cooled by the breezes that blow through the river valley. And there is lots of shade to be had.

First order of business is to hit the Merch Tent - absolutely must have this year's t-shirt for my granddaughter (I need one as well, but the mission is to get her one before they are sold out). I manage to stay focused and do not hit the CD bins - just yet.

Settle into my usual spot (a state secret, but a lot of people are discovering it this year and it is getting crowded - may have to do a scouting mission for a new refuge). And LeE HARVey OsMOND open. A brilliant set that presents songs from the underbelly of society. I am drawn to the dancing area so I can absorb it fully. A member of the group is a vetern of the 60's coffee house circuit and his solo is a time trip. This collective melds so many traditions together - the music is complex, but sounds simple - a specific joy to experience.

Then a mini-set from Mark Berube and the Patriotic Few. Mr. Berube has an astonishing voice. Strong, clear and an amazing range that he negotiates effortlessly (which is a lot of hard work to pull off - it needs those 10,000 hours of practice to master). The songs appear to be lighter than those from LeE HARVey OsMOND, but are just as well observed and subversive. A major talent discovery for me and some workshops move from "very likely" to "definite" category.

ASIDE: If this pairing was an ad for the double bill at SAIT Gateway Lounge this fall, it worked. I will be there.

One more ASIDE: Carolyn Mark continues to be an exceptionally good MC - thanks!

Drift back to my refuge and Bell Orchestre appears and entrances. Again the music is complex but sounds simple. Orchestral instruments being used to explore the sounds you might hear in another dimension. The final number is one of the most beautiful pieces that I have ever heard inside or outside a concert hall. I do not think that I can describe it adequately. Let's just say the sounds emerging from these classical instruments were on the far edges of the instrument's technical range, but the result of the meld presented feelings of the tranquility found in when we celebrate our common bonds. Amazingly satisfying.

The Good Lovelies present the next mini set. Amazing triple harmonies from these ladies. They are working in the very old love song tradition. A great modern example of the original can be found in Karina Gauvin's CD: Les Chants d'Auvergne. But no need to search for that, just find these ladies and enjoy. The lyrics evoke the best of the values found when two people love simply. The harmonies make you think such a thing is possible. I will be certain to follow them this weekend.

Gomez, the self-identified British Rock Insurgency, arrive. Blast off! I am immediately in the dance area which is functioning as a mosh pit. We are a mix of people who know the band well and those of us who are discovering them. Wonderful abbreviated conversations while we dance our hips out of place about the band. These are great rock musicians, and they mean to create change. I am ready to march with them. It is an astonishing set.

I miss Jolie Holland as I am in dire need of hydration and the line up is long at the lemonade stand. I am intrigued by what I can hear so will track her at the workshops.

Mekon is fun. Another collective of musicians who are exploring a pure traditional folk sound, but you know the punk genre where they started is still there - inspiring energy where you might have expected mournful wailing. A fresh hearing for the genre - which is all I desire this weekend and am experiencing in spades.

OK, Arrested Development is this year's "formula band." Here to give the crowd an occasion to stand and dance. They present virtually the same set as they did the last time they were hear. It was intriguing then. It is boring tonight. It is fun to watch the crowd dynamic though.

Cory Harris reminds me how much I love the pure, clean picking sound of Piedmont Blues. I really have to seriously explore this genre as it does not seem to have antecedents in Bluegrass (which I can not abide for more than 15 seconds) but seems to have emerged in the same geographic region. A winter project involving a lot of listening. A perfect antidote for the stale, sanitized pseudo hip-hop that went before.

Uh Oh, someone is wearing Miss Haversham's faded wedding dress on stage. A sure signal that we are in for an over the top performance or really disappointing self indulgence. Great Expectations are not met - it is relentless, boring, self indulgence on offer. Halfway through The Decemberists set I join the exit parade.

Am really excited about Saturday's workshops and will get to the site far earlier than usual. I have found all the supplies that I might need, except the sun screen.