Jeff Green | Aug 06, 2009
Back to HomeFeature Article - August 6, 2009
Canadian Guitar Festival
Blue Skies3 Music Festivals August Long WeekendThe region was most definitely alive with sounds of music this past weekend and music lovers had the luxury of choosing from a number of high quality events. Flinton jamboree
by Julie Druker
The Blue River Band of Kingston, one of many local bands that performed at the Flinton Country Bluegrass Jamboree on Saturday
The 5th annual Flinton Country Bluegrass Jamboree took place from July 31 to August 2 on the grounds of the Flinton Recreation Centre and was bigger than ever, with close to 300 trailers camping on site, 235 more than their first year.
A no-fuss, no-muss music event, the stage was comprised of an open-sided transport truck that straddled home plate at the Flinton ball diamond. Show goers set up their folding chairs on the infield and a big top tent provided shade for those in need. A folding chair, and an umbrella for shade were the bare essentials at this event; the Flinton Recreation Club took care of everything else, including food with a full canteen menu.
Harold Bonner of Valley Heritage Radio station CJHR emceed. The talent included a wide range of local and from-away bands. Young local talent also had their time to shine on Friday night. Singer Dallas Arney wowed the crowd with her original songs and is a bright country singing star definitely on the rise.
When I arrived midday on Saturday the sun was high and Neon Blue, a traditional new country band from Bancroft, was just wrapping up a fast and furious 45 minute set that included classics like CCR’s “Old Cotton Fields Back Home” and George Strait’s “Amarillo by Morning”. The band’s original song “Katie” won inclusion in the recent Moosetrax compilation CD. Another original song “Thank God for the Simple Man” made the gospel charts in the States.
Band member Dale Doney, who plays rhythm guitar in the band, loves the Flinton venue; it’s their second time playing here. “It’s a great crowd, not rowdy and there is a really nice family atmosphere here.”
The band New Frontier took to the stage next and lead singer Brian Cosby from Sterling nailed a number of Hank Williams classics, including “Cold Cold Heart”.
Duane Thibault, president of the Flinton Rec Club, said that Steve Piticco and his band South Mountain were a huge draw this year. Well known as one of the foremost Canadian telecaster players around, Steve Piticco has played on almost every country album produced in Canada and has won numerous awards both here and abroad. No doubt he had the undivided attention of the Flinton crowd most of Saturday night.
Wayne Brown was the winner of the raffle for the recital fiddle donated by Murray's Music of Northbrook and the Flinton Recreation Club. Proceeds from the raffle were donated to the Lennox and Addington County's EMS Ambulance Service.Canadian Guitar Festivalby Julie Druker
The Sebastien Cloutier Band from Trois Rivieres, QC, rocked hard at the 5th Annual Canadian Guitar Festival held at its new permanent home at the Loughborough Lake Holiday Park
South of Sydenham, the 5th Annual Canadian Guitar Festival was held for the first time at Loughborough Lake Holiday Campground. Organizer Del Vezeau co-presented the three-day event with Rob Poland of CandyRat Records and it looks as though this high calibre festival, which offers an array of guitar aficionados playing in a wide variety of styles, has finally found its permanent home.
Completed just days before the event began on Friday was a 80x120 foot super structure that allowed the event to take place under cover.
Well-known and revered Canadian singer/songwriter and guitar legend Don Ross made his regular Friday night appearance. Saturday night performances by Richard Smith, who plays Chet Atkins style guitar, and Gareth Pearson from Wales, who did a reworking of a popular Prince song, received standing ovations.
On Sunday, 19 competitors, some from as far away as Philadelphia and Hawaii, entered the finger-style guitar competition. Ewan Dobson of Toronto won first place and will be heading to Kansas for the International Competition to be held there later this year.
Don Alder, another award-winning guitar player from Vancouver, held a Sunday workshop and displayed his unique finger-stylings. He was inundated with questions from up-and-coming players.
Later that evening, Sebastien Cloutier and his band from Trois Rivieres unleashed a set of heavy guitar rock onto the crowd. They were followed by Antoine Dufour, also of Quebec, who mellowed things out with his acoustic set accompanied by violin.
According to Del, the last five festivals have proven to him that this one-and-only national guitar festival is catching on and is definitely here to stay.
Meanwhile at Blue Skies in Clarendon…..Vancouver performers rock Blue Skies. By Jeff Green
Vancouver based musicicians, Delhi to Dublin perform onstage at Blue Skies
“I think we saw a bit of a change this weekend,” said perennial Blue Skies MC Magoo (Bruce Macgregor) on the day after the 36th annual festival ended.
That change came in programming. Joel Leblanc, in his first year as artistic director of the wildly popular festival (the right to purchase camping passes is won in a mail-in lottery) programmed the festival with as many performers in their early 20s as those in their 40s and 50s.
For the audience, which is as multi-generational as can be found in any public event, anywhere, the 15 to 30-year-old set became a mainstream target of the music programming.
“I was talking to Roger James [a popular veteran Kingston-based performer who attends and performs at the Festival] and he said these kids are as good today as we thought we were 35 years ago. But we weren't really that good,” Magoo said as he introduced Gareth Pearson, a 20-year-old finger style guitarist from Wales who had been hustled up to Clarendon after performing at the Guitar Festival the night before.
Not only did Pearson play at breakneck speed, he leapt about the front of the stage, and danced to his interpretation of Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean, although he did not do the moon walk. His three-song set was extended to four, and he received two standing ovations from the Saturday night crowd.
The youth movement began earlier in the festival with the band O'Darlin' on Friday night and the Abrams Brothers, who did the Saturday afternoon show.
But the two performances that epitomized the youth movement were the Vancouver-based Delhi to Dublin on Friday evening and C.R Avery, who closed the festival on Sunday night.
Delhi to Dublin, as the name suggests, describes their music as “electro-acoustic celto-punjabi fusion, with touches of reggae, break beat, drum ‘n bass and hip hop.”
The ethnically diverse band members did more than play dance music; they were constantly on the move, in a performance style that at times seemed to verge on reckless abandon, but inevitably led to some entertaining synchronized dance. It all served to whip up the audience, young and old.
The band has a hidden goal, however, according to their website - “total global domination. Bouncy banghra leprechauns everywhere.”
After exerting their domination over the Blue Skies community, they immediately flew off to Eugene, Oregon, for a gig the following night.
Two days later, as the festival was winding down, poet C.R. Avery performed with the help of a five-piece band, featuring two fiddles, electric bass, percussion and guitar.
It's hard to characterize what C.R. Avery does, because in some ways he is a throwback to beat poets of the '50s, but he also borrows a lot from hip hop rhythms, and provides his own musical element with beat box rhythms interspersed with harmonica.
The accompanying music ranged from atmospheric background to the spoken word content, to frantic rhythms and screaming guitars. The content of his performance art, which was at times political, at times topical, and at times crude, was uniformly inventive and energetic.
He performed several pieces that are part of the show he has been developing during his summer tour with these musicians, but he left a lot of room for improvisation.
He included a piece about the festival itself after arriving on Friday, and captured in a few minutes much of the nuances of the 36-year-old event, boasting about swimming in the Mississippi River, and “jumping off the Mississippi bridge.”
Avery promised that he would end the festival with a blast instead of winding it down, and he delivered.
Other highlights included: Nova Scotia's Matt Anderson, Toronto blues man Jack Dekeyzer, and Les Temps Dantan from La Belle Province.