Archive for August 18th, 2008

2008 Salmon Arm Roots & Blues Festival

August 18, 2008

I spent the weekend in Salmon Arm at the 16th annual Roots & Blues Festival.

Whether it was the heat-induced malaise on Saturday or some other esoteric reason, I wasn’t that enthused over the performers I saw this year. Although there were exceptions. (To qualify that statement, all of the performers that I saw were very good, just not a style that compelled me to sit through the whole performance. Plus the fact that over the two days it is pretty near impossible to see all of the various performers which means that you never know if you missed a performance you would have loved).

There was Chris Smither, a songwriter/guitar player/singer, who was certainly worth the time spent and John Lee Sanders who kept me locked in for his entire performance. It was there I was reminded that one should never sit in close proximity to the bass speakers, fearing for a bit that my heartbeat rhythm was going to be re-programmed. The question also arose as to why, in introducing a song, there is the tendency to say,”it goes something like this”, when in fact, “it goes exactly like this”. Just a thought.

To me, the highlight of the weekend was performances by Carolyn Wonderland, out of Houston, Texas. She had a voice that nailed me to the back of my folding chair. Breathtaking. AS well, she showcased her exceptional musical skills by playing on the acoustic and slide guitars as well as the mandolin and the trumpet. I hesitate to even guess what other instruments she has mastered. Add to that an ability to whistle along with the best. Dry-humour funny as well. She just smoked. At the end of her Sunday morning performance she received a standing ovation that continued until she had picked up her gear and was leaving the stage. No time for encores in the festival schedule.

The only complaint I had was the obligatory whine about oppression in the USA and how (according to Wonderland) you can exercise your right to free speech but only in places where you can’t be heard. Ending with a comment that, “jail ain’t bad if all your friends are there”.

Funny though. I haven’t seen any tanks in the U.S. streets lately or soldiers for that matter. Sounded to me like she was nostalgic for the Vietman War protests.

But aside from the educational commentary, she rocked.

As always, there was music for every taste. Just as I was leaving on Sunday afternoon I heard great amounts of noise coming from the area of the World Stage where a performance was just finishing. A large crowd was showing their appreciation for what they had just heard. If you had asked someone at that venue they may well have told you that it was the best Roots and Blues ever. An alternate theory could be that I was merely cranky.