[Ed note: Re-posted in tribute to photographer Ivan Sorensen, who passed away recently.]
Hey Hamilton! We totally nailed it yesterday at the Greenbelt Harvest Picnic! It’s all about local farms, woods, waters, artisans, and great music.
The Harvest Picnic taps into the cultural “we’ve got to get back to the Garden” vein that summer festivals all share in one way or another. It’s escapism, but only partly. Everybody needs to connect with simpler, more essential things, step away from the pressure, get outdoors, get surrounded by people, enjoy and reflect.
The vibe at this year’s Greenbelt Harvest Picnic was definitely chill. I spent the day at the festival which happens annually at Christie Lake Conservation Area. On one side of the laneway a wide arc of multi-coloured tents belonging to vendors of all types stretched out. On the opposite side was the huge main stage with a smaller stage out in front.
By two-o’clock several hundred people were splayed around the field in a colourful array of mini-shelters, folding chairs, and blankets on the grassy field. By sundown the number had swelled into the thousands.
Although the clouds mercifully sheltered us from the sun, many experienced veterans of the event were wise to stake out a shady area farther back from the stage. Hundreds of families were present with all the kids in tow. Babies suckled, toddlers tottered, kids played. Nobody combed their hair.
Eudene Luther and Laura Cole. Ivan Sorensen’s best photo of the day.
The raindrops teased us. And then they stopped, thankfully.
Main stage. Photo by Glen Brown
Lee Harvey Osmond’s fine set brought the audience into focus. Front man and Hamilton music “statesman” Tom Wilson’s dry wit brought chuckles. “Good bass players are hard to find, so I made my own” he said, referring to his son Thompson Wilson. Thompson had a set of his own later in the evening, where he capably commanded the small stage on his own and introduced us to his own music.
The Dinner Belles. Photo by Glen Brown
Highlights from the small stage were Missy Bauman and The Dinner Belles. The Belles had a loyal mob of enthusiastic fans bopping and cheering, filling up the grass in front of the small stage. The band’s upbeat and happy music achieves and models unity through diversity as every member of the 8-member group gets equal footing, even though there are musical leaders in every spot. A masterful achievement of listening, sharing, and creativity!
DAEDALUS in concert. Photo: Glen Brown
Missy Bauman’s energetic set was well received. She has put together a tight and energetic five piece band called DAEDALUS. Anjelica Hammond Rees’s backup vocals added a lot of depth to the overall sound. Max Bornstein was rock solid on drums, Benny Langedyk rocked on bass, and Andrew Nunno’s guitar work was a strong and appropriate mainstay of the band’s overall sound. I’m looking forward to hearing what comes next.
Andrew Nunno photo by Ivan Sorensen
Anjelica Hammond Rees photo by Ivan Sorensen
Max Bornstein photo by Ivan Sorensen
Missy Bauman photo by Ivan Sorensen
The main stage acts I caught were Kathleen Edwards, Basia Bulat, Gregory Alan Isokov, Rural Alberta Advantage, Gordon Lightfoot, Bahamas, and Arkells. Each group brought a unique set of music and performance arrangements into their show. All the bases were covered emotionally with a wide range of musical styles and interpretations.
Lightfoot’s voice and songs brought a hush to the crowd. His longstanding hits are a part of us! His band was truly professional and well-honed. I enjoyed hearing local guitarist Carter Lancaster’s tasteful solos throughout.
Rural Alberta Advantage’s driving and pulsing sound was created by juxtaposing a complex, driving drum beat with simple keyboard and melodic lines. Bahamas created a variety of textures using special vocal arrangements, and they made comments that connected with the “environmentally attuned” audience as darkness settled in. Perfect timing and choice of material on the band’s part.
As one would expect Basia Bulat, Kathleen Edwards, and Gregory Alan Isokov performed with inspiring honesty and power.
The night was getting cool. Finally, the headlining Arkells’ fire and energy stoked the long-tended embers of the audience’s desire. The band kicked into full speed ahead from the first note and kept it going for an impressive and exciting set.
Max Kerman photo by Ivan Sorensen
Their songs ignited the park. Arkells took complete ownership of the moment.
Mike DeAngelis photo by Ivan Sorensen
Arkells brought their A+ game to the stage with a tight, fast-paced and visually exciting show representing highlights from their ten year career and some new stuff. Tim Oxford’s drumming has never sounded better. He and bassist Nick Dika laid down tasteful, powerful, efficient and unwavering energy throughout the set. With Dika, guitarist Mike DeAngelis, Max Kerman and Anthony Carone forming a four-man front line the band looked and sounded unified and polished.
Anthony Carone getting ready to take his medicine. Photo by Ivan Sorensen
The men instantly connected with the hometown crowd and had them singing along and dancing like nobody’s looking – aided by Max asking for the lights being shut off! Two encores finally got everyone what they wanted, which was the top-ten hit “Leather Jacket” from High Noon. How exciting to hear that High Noon has just gone platinum in Canada, topping the 40,000 mark for sales.
At the exit gate I asked several people if they enjoyed the day. Completely unanimous response, “Yes, absolutely!” There were more than a few families with kids in tow. One child was blissfully asleep in the wagon as it rumbled along the grass. A perfect symbol of community and peace, and a wonderful way to end a very good day!
Pretty excited to see Arkells from front row! Photo by Ivan Sorensen
The Old Mush Singers perform. Photo: Ivan Sorensen
Photo: Ivan Sorensen
The Dinner Belles entertain. Photo: Ivan Sorensen
Busiest musician of the day: Greg Brisco on keyboards. Well done, sir! Who are the two hecklers? 🙂 Photo: Ivan Sorensen
Aaron Goldstein, guesting on pedal steel with The Dinner Belles. Photo: Ivan Sorensen