I had a busy Bluesfest today. Every year I resolve to stay put, but as often as not I end up flitting about. I ran into a former coworker and we did the circuit a couple of times. I started off at the River Stage where I saw the BushPilots - joined by Maureen Hogan of Good2Go - kick out a couple of hard-rock country, including a cover of The Flying Burrito Brother's Sin City. As you can probably tell, I didn't have enough time to get the exposure right.
BushPilots, Bluesfest, July 5, 2008
Then I went over to the Giant Telecommunications Company Stage to see Silver Creek. First time I laid eyes on Shawn Tavenier he was singing with the Elmer Ferrer Band along with Anders Drerup. Here he is singing with Drerup again, this time in front of a pretty cookin' band that reminds me of the Rolling Stones circa Sticky Fingers. They also performed a Joe-Cockerized version of the Beatles' With A Little Help From My Friends.
Silver Creek, Bluesfest, July 5, 2008
That's where I met my former coworker; neither of us had bands we immediately wanted to see, so we wandered back to the River Stage. Lanky Brit Jon Amor was on stage performing some pretty potent blues rock. I also detect a bit of The Who in his sound ... but perhaps that's just his slight resemblance to Pete Townsend. I wish I'd stuck around because he did sound very good.
Jon Amor, Bluesfest, July 5, 2008
My companion wanted to check out NQ Arbuckle, so we walked past the Roots Stage, where Crooked Still were playing some serviceable bluegrass and over the hill to the Black Sheep Stage.
Justin Rutledge was there, but he didn't hold our attention for too long. He's a genial folk-rocker from Toronto, and like the other artists performing on the Black Sheep Stage that day, on the Six Shooter Records roster.
Justin Rutledge, Bluesfest, July 5, 2008
We traipsed through the War Museum (blessed, blessed air-conditioning!) and off to the Giant Financial Institution Stage to see what The Frequency was all about. We must be on a different frequency than the frequency, because they didn't sound too interesting either. They did however have matching shirts. As we walked off they launched into a song that sounded like - and may have been - one of Pink Floyd's later numbers.
The Frequency, Bluesfest, July 5, 2008
Thus, we toddled over to the Giant Telecommunications Company Stage for a quick listen to Amanda Rheaume, then hightailed it to The River Stage to see Nick Moss and The Fliptops for no particular reason.
Amanda Rheaume, Bluesfest, July 5, 2008
He's a pretty good blues-rocker, and boy did he have the blues: Someone ripped off his band in Montreal that morning, so the only gear they had left was the guitar he's holding in his hands. Moss and company hail from Chicago where they stand pretty tall on the local blues scene.
Nick Moss and The Fliptops, Bluesfest, July 5, 2008
My companion was hankering to return to the Black Sheep Stage so we walked back over the hill to see some of NQ Arbuckle's set. He's another Toronto country rocker with a straight-forward touch. He had Carolyn Mark on to sing on a few songs, and Ford Pier also put in an appearance on keyboards (as he did the day before with Dave Bidini). He was good, but I listen and see a lot of that kind of stuff and can't say he stands out.
NQ Arbuckle, Bluesfest, July 5, 2008
After a few songs from Arbuckle and his crew, we went back to the River Stage to see Jenn Grant play. I greatly enjoyed Grant's Orchestra for the Moon, and she was just as luminous live. Among her band was Sean MacGillivray, who also played here with The Improvements and Rebekah Higgs' band. He's also in The Burdocks.
Jenn Grant, Bluesfest, July 5, 2008
Unfortunately after a half-hour or so Ladytron began cranking up on the Giant Telecommunication Company Stage, and the sound of their sinister cocaine psychosis synth rock began creeping over the knoll. After Grant finished her set I walked over to see what was going on. I managed to find a space right up by the front, all the better to enjoy the physical effects of a low end capable of bowling over small children and the elderly.
Ladytron, Bluesfest, July 5, 2008
They've got catchy tunes, a smashing pair of lady vocalists and enough volume to kill small animals. What more do you need? In my case, the answer is "dinner", so I headed home for some Vietnamese takeout and to download the vast number of photos I'd taken. Then it was back for a long-awaited chance to see Richard Thompson in action on the Roots Stage. He was amazing.
Richard Thompson, Bluesfest, July 5, 2008
He played a bunch of his best-known tunes, including Shoot Out The Lights and I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight, as well as stuff from his new album, Sweet Warrior, such as a politically charged Dad's Going To Kill Me. Unfortunately he had to compete with Dweezil Zappa and his Zappa Plays Zappa show. The nonstop guitar fireworks from the River Stage couldn't obscure Thompson's brilliant playing and singing, but it was damn annoying. That aside the audience was enthralled. A great end to a diverse day.