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Posts Tagged ‘Kingston’

Full moon and thumbs up at Wolfe Island Music Festival 2009

August 10th, 2009

Having spent half a decade in Kingston, Ontario for my post-secondary gig… it’s a bit embarassing that I never made the 20-minute jaunt to Wolfe Island. Last weekend, John and I rode the ferry from K-town to Marysville — in part for the well-touted annual music festival on the island, and also so I could vend some of my tees at the event.

We arrived on Friday night, just in time to catch the show in front of the Marysville Town Hall. I might‘ve done a little jig when I noticed host Alan Neal wearing my re[TURN] tee — woohoo!

After a charming warm-up by Bahamas and local sweetheart Rocky Roberts, I was thoroughly wowed by Sarah Harmer.

I’ve enjoyed her live shows before in past, but there was something very warm about this performance — she obviously feels completely at home in this community. Her bandmates — including the über-talented Julie Fader — always add just the right amount of everything and yet always let Sarah shine.

We opted out of later shows because we still had to set up our tent. The camping site was on a baseball diamond, in view of another diamond which was the festival grounds for the next day.

Saturday is a bit of a blur… a happy, colourful blur of terrific tunes and some great feedback about my shirts from complete strangers. The lack of sleep from partying campers and chilly overnight probably didn’t help the ol’ memory.

Some highlights… breakfast at the Island Grill patio with a view of Lake Ontario; a walk around town picture-taking (many featuring the newish and ever-present wind turbines);


- setting up in “Vendor Village” before festival-goers arrived…


… and as people trickled in;


– being impressed by Cherry Chapstick, and by Julie Fader’s turn in the spotlight; a welcome introduction to $100;

- rocking out to The Rural Alberta Advantage;

- a haunting and gorgeous set by Ohbijou (who never disappoint);

- meeting and doing a shirt swap with Lucas from The Gertrudes (whose show we sadly missed because we were setting up camp the night before); and being blown away by the massive energy and stunning wordsmithing of Busdriver.

Overall, this was one of the most positive vibes I’ve gotten from a musicfest. Having done events like Hillside and Bluesfest, I find the multi-day and multiple stages can be overwhelming, and also that I can tend to get ‘musicked out’. WIMF was just the right scale for what we wanted this weekend. I love that once we parked our wheels, everything for the rest of our weekend was a stroll away: the campsite, the town, the water, the festival grounds. People were helpful and friendly, and it all felt so laid back and welcoming. The line-up was eclectic and wowing to the senses… the fact that I sold a few tees was icing on the cake.

Huge happy kudos to Virginia Clark and the rest of the WIMF community who made this incredible event run like a well-oiled machine. High fives to Ma Nature, who came through with gorgeous weather on both Friday and Saturday. I have every intention on going back to this festival in 2010 — no wonder CBC3 touts this as one of Canada’s best summer festivalsThough, next time ‘round, I think we’ll be crashing at a B&B *yaaaawn!*

Artist photos by John Bagnell

m chen wears, music , , , , , , , , ,

Leonard Cohen is a bully

May 26th, 2009

Months ago, a couple of my friends suggested getting tickets to see Leonard Cohen on tour. I agreed, partly because I have FOMO, and partly because I figured he’s a legend whom I may not have the opportunity to see again. Last Friday, we drove two hours to see him in Kingston — tickets there were way less expensive (and also less sold out!) than Ottawa; as you can see from my pic, we had pretty decent seats, plus the jumbo screens were crystal clear.

I don’t own one Leonard Cohen cd. Even now, I’d be hard-pressed to remember more than 5 titles of songs he sings. In actuality, I find that a lot of his songs sound a bit similar. His over-the-top sax player drove me batty — cheeseball moves, the only guy on stage who did a costume change. During ‘Suzanne’, something about Leonard’s chord changes sounded funny in my ear.

And yet… I was absolutely won over that night. Two words: CLASS ACT.

The spry 74-year-old (!!!) had us chuckling with his banter and his skipping on- and off-stage, was incredibly generous to his bandmates, didn’t miss a beat, and gave us three (!!!) encores. Lots of solos by his über-talented fellow musicians — during which Leonard would take off his hat to hold it to his chest, and face them. His ‘back-up’ singers were mindblowing — Sharon Robinson (who co-wrote Everybody Knows, among other tunes) and the Webb sisters. It’s obvious Leonard Cohen still loves being onstage, feels lucky to be there, and appreciates his fans and associates. He’s the only musician I’ve ever seen who thanks the lighting guy, the techs, the person who takes care of the band’s hats… And is it me, or does he not look a lot like Dustin Hoffman?

Ok, so he’s not really a bully per se, but Leonard Cohen did make me cry four times during that evening. This one’s locked into the memory bank, for sure.

Ever been to a show that moved you to blubbering? (Or am I the only sop in the room?)

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