Friday At The 2024 Mariposa Folk Festival

By John Swartz

This is summer. Sunshine, big, puffy, white clouds scattered in the sky, heat, sweat from standing still, and music. Oh, and a few thousand people in Tudhope Park for the 23rd Mariposa Folk Festival.

The festival started with free performances downtown. The Downtown Orillia Management Board tagged along with a sidewalk sale on the closed blocks of Mississaga Street between Front and Peter Streets, which drew hundreds more people and in contrast to previous years when Mariposa was the only attraction (still drawing big crowds), it felt more festive.

The emphasis on the runcard for the evening on the main stage, and particularly in the pub was toward the Country side of the Folk genre.

Amanda Rheaume started things off on the right foot Friday night at the 2024 Mariposa Folk Festival.

Amanda Rheaume opened the festival with a harder edge, but the following acts, up to the closer, Bahamas, presented more laid back and introspective songs. Not many toe-tappers in there, but very good harmonizing and lyrics. It was the kind of thing that appeals to those who are accustomed to sitting down with a coffee and really listening to music; searching out the interesting chords changes and wordsmithing to appreciate.

Up in the pub, things were different. It always is. This is party central and the music has to keep pace with audience expectation. Lawrence Maxwell’s music was faster and had more beat to bop or dance in place to. It was still country influenced, but he and his band were there to keep the temperature up.

The same was true for Cassandra Lewis. There is an old saying soundboard operators have, ’can’t amplify what isn’t being put into a mic.’ This was not an issue with Cassandra. She’s got a big voice and it seemed she wanted everyone at the back of the tent to hear it.

On the main stage, The Secret Sisters’s music focused on their harmony. Their songs, performed well, are well suited for listeners taking a break and relaxing. Cat Clyde was more energetic. She and her band were clearly enjoying being able to perform on a stage with more power than needed and a few thousand people taking it in. Without knowing her performance history, there was a confidence of performance she had.

Along the way it rained. It was about 7:30 p.m. It did not last long, 10 to 15 minutes, but it was enough to cause the breakout of umbrellas. It could have been worse, Soon after it stopped. It took the humidity out of the air and it did not take long to dry things up again.

William Prince made his 3rd, maybe 4th appearance in Orillia since the great down time, so a lot of people in the audience knew his music and there was lots of applause on recognition of each next tune he did. William was fresh off his participation in the Massey Hall tribute to Gordon Lightfoot concert.

There was anticipation for Bahamas. And a big cheer when he took the stage.  His music is very well crafted. Each song used influence from different genres of music. He opened with an island feel, a couple tunes later impressions of George Benson from his pop years was evident.

His music does not remain static. The repeats of verses and choruses, while being recognizable as a second or third time around, were not the same. Every time something was different. Chord changes or guitar riffs were altered. And groove, boy does he know how to write a groove.

It was his third appearance at Mariposa and every time it’s something to look forward to. Last time he was here he had a bigger band and a trio of backup singers. This time is was a 4 piece and only one backup singer. Yet he’s mastered his sound, depending on one’s past experience with his performance, you still get the full effect of his music.

Another thing is his guitar playing. His solos aren’t blazingly fast throughout, but he does things you can’t hear once and duplicate right away. He’s a great writer who can take a left turn in the middle of a solo you’d never expect, yet it makes perfect sense.

Friday at the Mariposa Folk Festival - William Prince

Image 2 of 15

Once again festival organizers chose and assembled a lineup order that works. As someone mentioned, ‘I don’t know half these acts,’ but it doesn’t matter if it turns out you like what they’re serving.

On to day 2. Irish Mythen opens, followed by Jesse Cook, Amigo the Devil, Noah Cyrus and Band of Horses.

(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia) Main: Bahamas closed out the Friday night lineup at the 2024 Mariposa Folk Festival.

Rants & Raves

Support Independent Journalism