… nobody managed to get in my way. But then again, I didn’t put myself into much of a position where I was likely to be interrupted or diverted (although anything is possible of course).
I had an excellent night’s sleep in the tent, which I reckon that I thoroughly deserved, and I was up early and at work by 07:30 with a mug of coffee and a pile of breakfast biscuits, and it didn’t take all that long to work on the 61 photos that I had taken yesterday. And then they all needed to be imprinted with the copyright logos.
Once I’d done that, I wrote up the blog for yesterday ready to upload as soon as I could find a wifi connection.
One thing that I did manage to do is the change the headlight bulb in Strider. I’d picked one up at Rouses Point when I was there a few days ago, and while I’d been looking for a paper for Strider yesterday, I noticed that there was a section in his handbook about changing the bulb. It looks pretty straightforward but it isn’t, mainly because I don’t think that it had ever been changed before and the clips took quite a bit of forcing with a pipe wrench to move them. But at least he’s all legal now.
I also took the opportunity to have a really beautiful and warm shower.
On the road, first stop was the Atlantic Superstore where I stocked up with food as we are running right low on fruit, veg and bread. And they also had a few other things on special offer. So I now have a full pickup and we’re (almost) ready for anything.
Tim Horton’s came up with an internet connection (they must have made a fortune on coffee since they started on the free wifi connections – I know that they have from me) and after all of that I went to my usual little spec on the boat launching ramp car park opposite the city for lunch.
Home Depot was the next stop, and there I bought all of the wood that I need to make the bed that I want for Strider. And so Strider is now all loaded up with wood. They also had the insulation that I want too, but that’s going to have to wait until I’ve done the bed. I don’t want to load up Strider with stuff that’s going to be in the way. I’m going to buy it as I need it.
And so off to the Festival, and at the Barracks Tent, which has now been erected, we were having a communal yoga session.
As I arrived, they were all going into the mass hypnotism session that they have usually right at the end of every session, and so I engaged in a conversation with the volunteer on the door. We were wondering what might happen should a marching band go storming past the tent at this particular moment
The free stage has been erected at the City Hall, and the first band up on there was Tokyo Valentine. They are local, from Fredericton, and have only been together for a short while.
The vocals were a little, well, hit-and-miss, but musically there was nothing wrong with them and they seemed to be enjoying themselves, as did the audience.
In fact, the rhythm section was quite impressive. The drummer was superb and I really enjoyed listening to him.
As for the bassist however, he was easily the best that I have ever seen at this level. And I’m certain that I’ve seen him before too. I don’t remember his face but I do remember his style of play and I’m sure that I’ve seen him before with someone else at a previous Festival.
We had two female singers. One of them was sometimes on the keyboards and sometimes on the tambourine. And her vocals weren’t all that bad but her style wasn’t really a style that appealed to me.
But she knew how to interact with the audience and at one stage went off the stage to dance with everyone in the audience, who clearly enjoyed it too.
The girl on guitar, who was really a mermaid apparently, kept it simple and basic and that’s all that you need to do. But she knew how to get an audience moving too.
All in all, I had to say, what a way to start the Festival. This was quite a good act to have on a free stage, considering some that we have had in the payable venues, and I approached their manager afterwards with a view to doing something with them on Radio Anglais.
But we shall see.
The Hoodoo House is now open for business too and we started off with Tomato Tomato, who come from Saint John. They’ve been at the Festival before but I don’t recall having seen them.
It’s a married couple, who have been together for 11 years, and the kind of music that they were playing was certainly different. It wasn’t jazz and it wasn’t blues either, but whatever it was, they put everything into it.
We had the guy on acoustic guitar and vocals (and by the looks of thing, banjo and a few other stringed instruments too) but it was the woman who interested me.
She was playing almost everything – the washboard, the cymbals, the tin can, and also the bass drum and the tambourine, which she was playing by hitting pedals with her heels.
That must have taken quite some co-ordination, but never mind. She managed it fine and it was really quite different
I’d seen Kill Chicago last year in the “new faces” competition and this year here they are again, back in the Barracks Tent as established performers.
I wasn’t all that impressed by them last year. It wasn’t that their music was bad in any way, it was just that the style of music didn’t appeal to me that much. It’s something like modern pseudo-punk, high energy stuff.
They were much more refined this year, having had 12 more months to work on their act, and the audience clearly enjoyed the music that they were hearing.
But as I said, it’s not for me and, in all honesty, I don’t know why it’s the kind of music that should feature at the festival. I don’t reckon that it’s blues, and it’s certainly not jazz.
Now, this is much, very much more like it.
We’ve all seen these before. It’s the Record Company and they’ve been here at the Festival before too. Playing proper music with exactly the right number of musicians on stage for a change, and they made the most of it.
We had a bassist and a drummer and also a third musician who played guitar but also occasionally played mouth organ (without the guitar).
Now I’ve said on numerous occasions that I don’t like harmonicas in blues bands, but that’s because most musicians don’t know how to play it properly. But here, the musician certainly knew how to use it, and he was using it in a novel way as backing to the bass and drums., and that’s different.
He also played slide guitar and bottleneck guitar (with a real bottleneck and this isn’t something that you see every day), and all in all, this was a really good performance.
They have moved clearly into first place on my hit list, and I sent a message backstage to contact them about doing something for Radio Anglais. We’ll have to see about that too.
Now this is an interesting duo, for sure.
We’ve not yet had an old traditional blues musician on stage yet – the kind that we always used to have back in the days when I first started coming to the Festival – but here we are at last, and about time too. And in the Hoodoo House, which is where I always used to spend my time back in those days.
This is Old Man Luedecke, and with a name like this, there has to be something about the blues in the performance.
He was accompanied by a mandolin … "PERSONdolin" – ed … player and between them they pumped out some good old Tennessee blues music during the time that I was there, and I would have stayed around had I not had other places to go and other people to see.
A couple of years ago, I’d really enjoyed Keith Hallett’s performance at the Festival, and I’d had quite a lengthy chat with him when I encountered him in the street back then.
He and his band had led my hit-list for quite a lengthy period that year (was it 2013?) until they were overtaken right at the very end of the Festival by the 24th Street Wailers and then by someone else whose name I have forgotten.
I was therefore quite looking forward to seeing his act this year, and when I noticed that he’d reduced his band from a four-piece to a three-piece (the right number of musicians on stage in any rock or blues band, in my opinion – lead vocalists may be extra) I knew that we were going to be in for a really good night back at the Barracks Tent.
And I wasn’t to be disappointed either.
And here he is, with his well-worn and well-battered semi-acoustic guitar, belting out the blues at 100mph.
As you might have expected, he’s soared to the top of my hit-list now and he’s yet another one to whom I’ve slipped a little note to ask him to contact me about doing something for Radio Anglais. I’d feature an hour-long live show by him at any day of the week. This performance was special.
Final act on stage (at least, that I saw – I’m not as young as I was and can’t keep it up like I used to) was Michael Franti and his backing band, Spearhead.
Franti is quite a well-known performer in North America with a string of hits behind his name (although he’s never made it across to Europe) and is one of the most popular live performers on the “circuit”. And it’s easy to see why from this performance.
His interaction with the crowd was stunning, to say the least. Just like Gord Downey last year, he knew how to reach out to the crowd, and that included going walkabout and having a dance on one of the refreshment tables in the middle of the hall.
And there’s no doubt whatever that everyone in the crowd enjoyed it. And going over to a woman in a wheelchair and giving her a big kiss was a piece of art.
The music though, was a long way short of the blues and that wasn’t for me.
But there was no doubt about the quality of it all because his backing band was superb. He had a young energetic lead guitarist, an old powerful bassist, a competent keyboard player and a wild, enthusiastic drummer, and they gelled together completely to belt it out for hours. I thoroughly enjoyed that part of the concert.
However all good things come to an end and I headed for home. But I was interrupted by a vegan wrap from a mobile food stand. They are all here now, and there’s a much bigger vegan choice of food on sale than in previous years.
Things are looking up!
And talking of that, what have – or haven’t you noticed tonight?
Despite all of my whinging yesterday, we haven’t had any brass sections. That’s a big improvement as far as I am concerned. I hope that it keeps up.
And by the way …
… the photos that I’ve posted for tonight’s acts at the Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival are only a small sample of the hundreds that I took during the evening. If you want to see any more of those that I took, you’ll need to contact me. Leave a comment and I’ll be in touch.