Jeff Green | Jul 12, 2007
Feature Article - March 8, 2007
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Elphin Roots Festival - amazing!
Well, unless you were there, it's one of those things you will hear about from someone who was, and wish you had been. Follow me? The day started off well and on schedule with a sizeable crowd constantly gathering. Raul had the sound running smoothly by noon and the performers were well aware that it was going to be a full and constant changing line-up. There were several bands that didn't appear on the poster, but made a pleasant addition: The Hankshaw Sissies being one of them. Great original songs played with passion and conviction. Dan Whiteley and Joey Wright gave a clinic in bluegrass pickin', trading licks on guitar and mandolin. Great stuff. Next the criminally talented Luther Wright along with his cohort, Dan duoed as Butterfingers. They had some pretty funny songs that were supposed to be for the kids, but had the adults laughing harder. Emily Fennell and her band played a set that showed her continual growth as a songwriter and although she already has a strong following, can only become much more popular on the folk/roots circuit. A truly gifted songwriter. Things were progressing at a great pace and everyone was enjoying the venue, the music, and meeting some new friends. Then it started raining. No biggy; these are seasoned festival-goers and they were well equipped to handle a little rain. But it turned out to be much more than the expected showers, and so withpeople patiently waiting it out, it became apparent that things were getting too wet equipment-wise to continue.
While decisions were pending over the festival’s future for the day, a spontaneous jam session broke out under the canopy of the backstage area with drinks, food, and licks being exchanged. These musicians were going down swinging! But what could have been a shameful disaster was quickly salvaged by the wily Ms. Whiteley who had a backup plan already in place. We were packing it up and moving over to the McDonalds Corners Agricultural Hall. A convoy of damp, but rejuvenated concert-goers followed the musicians over, and before you could say 'help me load this stuff'', the amazing Raul Cirne had the sound up and running and the place was packed!! From here on, we were in for a fun filled, action packed,never-say-die hoedown. Yeehaw indeed. The entertainers were so grateful everyone had hung in there and they were ready to take their performances up a notch. Luther Wright and the Wrongs, Chris Brown, Sheesam and Lotus and Melwood Cutlery all played superb sets, whileMarlee of Leaving Train earned the night’s first encore. Her voice and bass playing stole the show up to that point. And we hadn't even gotten to the special surprise guests yet! By this time they were no surprise, but nonetheless being eagerly anticipated. Jim Bryson hit the stage with Kathleen Edwards in tow. Normally he is playing in her band, but tonight she was returning the favour and adding her own sense of humour to the proceedings. Her quote that the Elphin Roots Festival was more fun for her to play than the Calgary Music Festival earned a nice thunderous round of applause from the attentive crowd. It sure was a nice thing to say and the feeling that people were experiencing a truly special night was contagious!! By the time the lovely Sarah Harmer hit the stage and wowed everyone with her great songs and stories, it was getting close to the end of a magical musical night. As tired as she was from the weekend’s organizing, Jenny Whiteley finally ended up on the stage and showed once again why she is so revered and loved for not only her music, but her professionalism and down-to-earth friendliness. Very reluctantly the crowd slowly dissolved into the night with that warm fuzzy feeling that can only come from being part of alittle piece of musical heaven andhistory. However you want to look at it,it was one of the most amazing nights that historical old hall has ever experienced. What's in store for thefuture of the Elphin Roots Festival? Well, next year folks, you'd better get your tickets early because it is going to be one of the most eagerly anticipated events of the summer. Might be hard to top this one, but you can bet that Jenny Whiteley is going to have fun trying!