Vancouver Island Music FestVancouver Island Fest – Apologies for the lengthy review, there’s a lot to talk about. You might want to make a cup of tea (or a large gin) before starting…..
Vancouver Island MusicFest takes place at the Comox Valley Exhibition Grounds in the Comox Valley on the East Coast of Vancouver Island. The Exhibition Grounds are located in beautiful spot along the Tsolum River.
There are 6 stages at the festival but on the first evening the music was centered around the concert bowl and the opening act for the festival was Michael Jerome Brown. Having seen him a few times back home in Glasgow, I knew what to expect and I was not disappointed. He played a lively set which encompassed blues, R&B, old-time country and Cajun. A good way to start the festivities.
Next up on this extremely varied bill were Old Blind Dogs. Now, I have to confess to finding it very difficult to be objective about the current OBD lineup. I think Aaron Jones has a voice like melted chocolate and is one of the best instrumentalists around. What can I say? They had me at hello! As usual they performed a sterling set and were well received.
With barely enough time to draw breath (or get another drink) came Steven Page. Steven is an extremely familiar face with Canadian audiences having formed one half of the hugely successful due ‘The Barenaked Ladies’ and whilst I knew TBL, this was the first time I had seen Steven Page.
I really enjoyed his set – his songs spanned the full spectrum of human emotion and they were delivered with great power. Steven is on again at my home festival in Edmonton next month and on this performance, I’ll definitely make a point of going to see him again.
Next up – Arlo Guthrie. I obviously knew a lot of his work but this was the first time I had seen him. He performed a really good set; he’s a natural born story teller and a fine instrumentalist.
To close Friday evening we had Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue. Trying to describe the music that Shorty performs is really difficult. There are elements of Jazz, funk and rock with a hip hop overtone! However you describe it, it makes for an awesome live experience and a fantastic way to close the evening.
Saturday morning and the music started at 10am. I headed to the concert bowl for the ‘kitchen table jam’ with Enter the Haggis, Old Blind Dogs and Hapa. Good fun.
When that finished I went across to the Grierson stage for the ‘Song Circle. This featured two of my absolute favourite singer/songwriters James Keelaghan and Martyn Joseph – add the mix Stacy Earle & Mark Staurt and Steven Page and you’ve got a phenomenal set of musicians. Wonderful stuff.
After this I went to check out a sibling duo from Devon, UK called the Carrivick Sisters. They were most impressive, really fine players and great harmonies. Reminded me a bit of the Indigo Girls.
Following the Carrivick Sisters it was back to the barn for a set called 'About what matters' featuring songs from artists including Martyn Joseph. Lovely.
5pm - Dick Gaughan. The only slight annoyance that I have is that this clashed with a set by James Keelaghan who I am also a huge fan of. If you know James then you'll understand my annoyance. However, you know there was going to be no contest as to who I went to see.....
I hadn't seen Dick since I left Scotland last August so I was well overdue my 'fix'. It was well worth the wait! He was in fine voice and I'll never ever tire of that guitar playing.....
The evening continued over in the concert bowl with an impropmtu set by many of the festival artists covering David Lindley songs (he couldn't make it because of illness) and I'm sure he would have been proud of what they had done. There were also sets by the Del McCory Band and Los Lobos. It really was a wonderful ecclectic mix of music and the whole place was bouncing. A brilliant night.
I caught some more of James Keelaghan in the 'Canadian checkup' on Sunday morning. James has a rich baritone voice (speaking and singing) which was just perfect for that time of day, very soothing.
In the early afternoon I saw part of the 'song circle'featuring amongst others Dick and the Carrivick Sisters but then it was time for the main event of day for me......Martyn Jospeh.
I hadn't seen Martyn since last September when he played at the Northern Lights Folk Club in Edmonton so I was really looking forward to this. He didn't disappoint.
Its evenings like this that remind me why I like him so much. He was warm, funny, engaging and the quality and passion of his songs really shone. Fantastic stuff.
After Martyn's set I went across to check out the set by Stacy Earle and Mark Stuart. I first saw Stacy as part of her brother Steve's band a number of years ago and every time I see her, her performance grows and grows. Her instrumental and harmony work with Mark is really terrific.
Next up 'Skip, Hop and Wobble' - Jerry Douglas, Russ Barenberg and Edger Meyer - 3 absolute giants of bluegrass = 75 minutes of bliss!
The music was continuing with Jennifer Warnes and Enter the Haggis but I was pretty wiped out and I didn't think that Skip Hop and Wobble could be topped.
All in all, an absolutely brilliant festival in beautiful surroundings.... I'll be back......
But now...I'm off for a wee lie down!
It would appear from what you've written that you had a ferr, ferr braw weekend! Ye'll be feelin punch-drunk!blackeye
We're off to Brampton this weekend. I'll let you know how things went...and although Peddly isn't going due to illness, Effs n Al are making their way down on Friday. bounce bounce