With over 40 concerts in over 5 days, it was next to impossible to make it to all of the events at last week’s Peak to Shore Festival, but reports are that most of the events were a huge success.
My Peak to Shore 2017 journey was amazing!!!
It started last Wednesday with Local Live Lunch, with the band Touch of Vinyl which I’m a member of. Perfect weather, amazing sound thanks to Roger Robinson of CHS, and a large crowd that seemed appreciative of our tribute to our favourite Canadian hits from Coast to Coast and from the 1950’s to now.
Thanks to support from The Simcoe Street Theatre and the Huron Club, the Shipyard Kitchen Party’s salute to Tom Thompson was very warmly received by a sold out audience. My first time doing a “soft seater” and it was truly a magical Friday night!
Saturday was another wonderful experience. The turnout to the Blue Mountain Village was already huge when Strange Potatoes and I arrived mid afternoon to catch Family Strum with Drew McIvor & Bambalamb on the Coca Cola stage followed by Wild Rivers – the audience continued to build throughout the afternoon.
It was awesome having conversations with people from all over Ontario commenting on artists they had seen so far and were looking forward to seeing. The best part was hearing how much they enjoyed performances of the bands and artists I know as friends from our local music scene! Names like Hunnay, Jason Redman and Craig Smith were being touted as the next “big thing” !
Strange Potatoes took the stage at 6pm knowing that the excitement was already building for the arrival of Sean McCann from Great Big Sea. Despite that fact, the huge audience was warm and engaging as we riffled through our crazy eclectic mix of material. Hearing so many voices do the “ba dat dat daaa” in Sweet Caroline was such a blast! By the time we closed the show with our version of “Home for a Rest”, folks were on their feet and it felt like everyone was having a street dance!
Shortly after Strange Potatoes wrapped it up, Sean McCann took the stage with his colleague Chris Murphy. The sun was going down over the mountain as Sean weaved his amazing songs in a beautiful narrative of love and personal spirit. Peppered with hysterical laughs, singalongs and foot stomping fun it was a captivating journey.
It was at that point that one of the most amazing moments in my career as an entertainer took place.
When Sean and Chris were called back for an encore, Sean introduced that he was going to invite Strange Potatoes to join him on stage! This resulted in a very unexpected cheer from the crowd that was still ringing in my ears as we plugged in and in a very surreal moment I hear the iconic voice that I have been listening to as fan for over 20 years count us in: “Alright boys …one …two… three… four…”
It was a mass of dancing, cheering and clapping as Sean McCann lead us through the Great Big Sea favourite “Ordinary Day”, his distinctive bodhran driving the infectious rhythm. A perfect night with pals I have been making music with for over 17 years backing up one of our favourite performers. It was magical. When we launched into one of our favourite Great Big Sea classics “Mari Mac”, it was mind-blowing to hear the very voice that is on one of my favourite recordings coming through my monitor.
Feeling almost out of body as the song ends, the lights dim and the show is over, I’m shaken with the reminder that Strange Potatoes, although with the blessing of our friends at M.J. Byrnes Irish Pub, we are now late for our 9:30 start.
The club was lined up outside the door as we make our way in and directly on stage. The energy in the room was amazing! Folks were ready to dance and party and that’s exactly what they did! This was not the laid back humour-filled show Strange Potatoes are sometimes known for – it was high energy, non-stop insanity on stage while the amazing staff at M.J. Byrnes managed to keep everyone happy and in great spirits.
Peak to Shore 2017 was certainly one I will remember for a very long time!
Thanks to Patti Kendall and the rest of the folks at the Blue Mountain Village for their vision and for their brilliant execution of a truly inspiring festival!