Saturday’s Mariposa, Damp, But Exciting

By John Swartz

It tried for quite a while. Then it did, then it didn’t. Repeat and repeat. By the end of the night Saturday at the Mariposa Folk Festival it was doing what weather forecasters might call a light rain. You know, the kind of steady dripping that would go with listening to something by Michael Jones from the comfort of the dry side of a window, but if you were outside it wouldn’t be too bad.

Yeah, it rained, some got out umbrellas, some went home early, but most people stayed to enjoy the performances.

I was standing outside the pub stage fence and I heard the audience start to sing along with a tune the band on stage was playing. Trying to think of who was on the schedule I didn’t have with me, I couldn’t think of a band with that kind of following which would be playing at that moment.

It turned out to be I, The Mountain. The audience helped out with another tune too.

Most of the best moments happened in the pub. Most. KT Tunstall gave a great performance on the main stage. I was in the green room listening (big monitor, good sound), not recognizing anything because of all the music there is to listen to, I hadn’t got around to listening to hers over the years. Until she did a cover of the Eurythmics’s Sweet Dreams.

That was good. I liked it. I was planning to get around to take some photos, I hurried up a bit. She also covered Tom Petty’s I Won’t Back Down and The Bangles’s Walk Like An Egyptian before I got out front.

It was just her on stage. The accompanying music I thought was coming from other players, was actually just stuff she created in a loop box, or had programmed.

She didn’t need a band on stage with her to create some visual excitement. It’s rare to find a performer so at home on stage, so into interacting with an audience like they are old friends, so comfortable and happy to be doing what she’s doing, I don’t think there is anyway one can witness her play and not feel like they’ve just seen the best thing ever. She had good little stories about making the music too, like realizing one song she wrote had a section that sounded just like another hit song (she then did the tune, it did sound almost exactly the same).

She told another story about writing a song, Shine A Light, with Suzi Quatro and then recording it in an empty club room on a cruise ship. She also mentioned Quatro turning down an invitation to visit Elvis in Memphis – too nervous to meet him.

Despite not really knowing any of the songs she’s known for, it was still one of the best performances I’ve ever seen.

Next, The Rural Albert Advantage is a nice band, with a modern sound, still playing tunes you could say are folk tunes. Nils Edenloff sure puts everything he has into singing their tunes and drummer Paul Banwatt was rock solid. For a three piece band aside from writing and singing good, catchy tunes, there has to be a magnetic drummer to make an impact on audiences. I’m glad the schedule worked out I caught some of their set.

Back at the pub, it was a tight squeeze to see The Trews. Capacity was reached in the pub area and about 100 or so people were lined up waiting to get in. At least they could hear the music well even if they couldn’t see the band.

The Trews opened with Under the Sun, and played Sing Your Heart and debuted a new song – The Bloody Light. The audience joined in on I Wanna Play. They covered Lightfoot’s Steel Rail Blues. 

Tegan and Sara

I had bugged out part way through, and during a lull in the rain, to catch a bit of Tegan and Sarah. Their first big gig was at Mariposa back in 2003 or 2004 and they have made a great career for themselves since. Their music appeals to a younger audience. This is an act you can tell knows how to put on a slick show. Even though I didn’t know the tunes, I liked their performance.

I had a quick chat with Mariposa’s Chris Hazel and remarked about seeing a lot more young people at the festival than I’ve noticed before. He said they’ve put a lot of effort into finding acts that would appeal to young people, without going overboard and turning off the old folks, to ensure an audience well into the future. I think having Tegan and Sara at the festival fit that plan. It was new music of more of a pop genre even old people can enjoy.

I still got back to the pub while the Trews were on stage. They waded into the audience, all of the band, to do Ishmael & Maggie and ended their set with Not Ready To Go.

Next up was Paul Langlois and his band. The front of the stage area was not as packed, but it looked like there was still a capacity crowd. It’s a new band, new tunes, and I probably wasn’t the only one who was hearing their stuff for the first time. It’s safe to say, Langlois knows how to write and the band he assembled knows how to play in order to energize a crowd, which they did. They did not sound like the Tragically Hip. It was very different; a harder edged rock and roll.

Earlier in the day, Michael Martyn, Scott Thomas and Steve Porter did a set at the new Village Stage. It was billed as a Lightfoot Singalong, and it drew a sizeable audience compared to the previous act.

The festival made a lot of effort this year to pay tribute to Gord. It opened Friday with a set and large cast of characters performing Gord’s music. There was this singalong, and another scheduled for Sunday. They brought out and installed the Streets Alive letter sculptures (a pat on the back is coming your way if you guessed which letters) and at least one Maple Leaf, Many of the performers added one of Gord’s tunes to their repertoire for the festival, and Sunday night Gord’s band with guest singers will be on the main stage for a set.

With one more day to go, the forecast for Sunday is music, well into the dark, a little cooler, but no rain.

The Trews @ Mariposa 23

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(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia) Main: KT Tunstall on the Mariposa Folk Festival main stage Saturday evening


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