by Julie Druker and Jeff Green
Flinton Country Bluegrass Jamboree
Bill White and White Pine
It was an all-in-the-family extravaganza of local talent at the sixth annual Flinton Country Bluegrass Jamboree on Saturday and crowds over the weekend soared to 1200, making the turnout the best in the Jamboree's six-year history.
Fans of the kind of pop-country or country rock that have become the staple of country radio might not find the Flinton Jamboree quite their taste, but for those with a taste for traditional country and bluegrass music the Jamboree has become a cherished event.
The Harrowsmith-based band, White Pine, started off this year’s Saturday after dinner show. Bill White leads the band and his son Joe is the featured fiddler. This much was familiar to the audience, as White Pine is well known and loved throughout the region and has graced the Jamboree stage on other occasions. This time there was a twist, however, and they were joined on stage by five and seven-year-old Marshal and Wyatt Tebworth on mandolin and violin.
Marshall and Wyatt are sons of the band’s mandolin player, Rob Tebworth. White Pine also includes Barry Calthorpe on dobro, John Renne on bass, and Len Heatherington on banjo.
They played a diverse and energetic set with ample solos threaded into the mix and with players taking turns at lead vocal mike. Their four-part harmonies are as good as they come and their set was peppered with tunes from their latest CD, which is called Requests, Among those were Grandfather's Clock, The Jubilee Road, and The Lonesome Old Home. Later on they took a request from Jack Weber for Sawmill Road. Not surprisingly the crowd demanded an encore and got one, with the band returning to play Jimmy Martin's tune,Tennessee.
Next up were the Black Family, a family of nine young players, singers and step dancers ranging in age from 3 to19, who all played a number of instruments. It was their first ever performance at the Jamboree and judging from their reception, likely not their last. They thrilled the crowd with their versions of Jessica's Waltz, St. Anne's Reel and a single from their CD called Maple Sugar, and came back to play a series of gospel tunes for their Sunday performance.
Last up for the night were headliners The Abrams-Burtch Connection.
Wayne Abrams on guitar and vocals and Bob Burtch on mandolin and guitar formed the core of the band. They were joined by Shawn Kellett on fiddle, guitar and mandolin, Mary Abrams on backup vocals, and Glen MacDonald on banjo, all of whom are familiar to fans of the Abrams family bands. The Connection was in fine form and played a raucous set, showing the crowd they can rip up a tune with the best of them.
At one point, Bob Burtch told the crowd “We play real country music”. Indeed.
Canadian Guitar Festival
Guitar “Superstar” Vicki Genfan
The sixth annual Canadian Guitar Festival took place at Loughborough Lake Holiday Park just south of Sydenham and the festival is known for attracting high caliber players from all over Canada, the States and further a-field.
The festival also offers a finger style guitar competition and this year 31 entries competed.
Among the Sunday night performers this year were the Chicago-born blues player Dennis Snyder, who just released his 8th CD, entitled Full Circle. His set included songs from various CDs including “Melancholy Mood” from “Eclectic” and “Fly on the Wall” from “Roots and Branches”. He ended his set with a tribute song he wrote called “Slide” in which he pays homage to the many musicians who have influenced him and helped him to develop his own unique sound over the years.
Next on stage was award-winning New Jersey guitarist Vicki Genfan, whose mind boggling combination of picking, thumping, strumming, slapping and harmonic tapping guitar stylings recently won her the title of Guitar Superstar in Guitar Magazine.
Her guitar wizardry is combined with a soulful singing voice, making Genfan is a force to be reckoned with. Her playing is highly complex, polished and modern and her repertoire is diverse. In her set she covered the Beatles’ “Norwegian Wood”, Chris Jones' “Ain't Got Love” and the Rascals classic “Groovin”. She also played a number of originals including “Joy” and “Atomic Reshuffle” from the double CD Up Close and Personal.
For guitar lovers who have yet to visit it, the Canadian Guitar Festival is a must see event and the venue is sure to please.
Variety and youth at Blue Skies 2010
Matthew Zadow performs at Blue Skies
The dust was flying on the Clarendon Road over the long weekend, as up to 3,000 music lovers beat a path to the site of the annual festival.
This was the second year for artistic director Joel Leblanc, and he continued on the path he set out last year by bringing in a diverse array of mostly young musicians who were not known to most of the audience before they hit the festival stage.
Every year at Blue Skies there seems to be more seniors in the crowd, but at the same time there are more babies being carried around. It defies any kind of expectations about people of different generations attending a single event. Programming for such a diverse crowd is a difficult task, and Leblanc’s strategy is to keep everyone guessing right from the start. With the exception of James Keelaghan, who played the Saturday matinee, there were few acts that could reasonably be called folk musicians in any sense, with the standout exception of Cedric Smith, the founder of the ’60s collective the “Perth County Conspiracy” who performed a short set on Saturday night.
Among the surprises were three Australian artists, and an act called “That One Guy” that defies description. That One Guy played a homemade pipe that resembles the Canadarm as well as an electric boot, performed magic tricks, and his music that was so danceable that the younger members of the audience just about stormed the stage.
The festival also featured a 15 member roots music collective from Kingston (The Gertrudes), a trio of young women from Montreal who seemed to channel the gypsy jazz sound of Django Reinhardt`s guitar, and a bus load of young musicians from Toronto who call themselves the Toronto All - Star Big Band, which closed the Friday night concert.
And then there was a bit of opera, delivered by a former blues man who once called Sharbot Lake home. Matthew Zadow has been pursuing a career as a baritone for a number of years since he graduated from the Queen's School of Music. He is based in Toronto and Brussels these days, and he was persuaded to come back home, and bring a one-hour show.
With the exception of the performance of the Blue Skies Suite by a chamber orchestra a dozen or so years ago, Blue Skies has been pretty much a classic music-free zone, and if there has ever been an opera singer at the 38-year-old festival it was many, many years ago
So, Matthew Zadow had a bit of extra work to do, performing before an audience that was not necessarily familiar with Mozart or Verdi. But, armed with a smooth voice and considerable charm, he managed to turn the audience his way, singing selections from Don Giovanni, Ravel, and others.
He was joined late in his set by Richard Hoenich, a bassoonist from Montreal who now lives in Brooke Valley. Hoenich performed Flight of the Bumblebee while Mathew Zadow took a short break. When he
Returned, he sang a particularly beautiful piece by Johann Sebastien Bach.
Even though he was one of the early performers on the final night of Blue Skies, and he had to sway an audience that is more familiar with banjos than Bach, Mathew Zadow received a huge ovation at the end of his set, and was given an encore, which is rare for that time of the evening since there were a number of acts to follow.