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Not sure if Mark put up a review of this yet but thought I'd take a quick stab at it. Only got to catch the Bullfrog closer Saturday night after craftily fashioning an orange wristband out of some paper, orange highlighter and tape. They were really solid, much better in an outdoor context. Still their standard set though. Koala's interlude was a craftily overlapped Moon River kicked down to the people in the campground or out on the water. Snakeskin was the closer. I love the percussionist, for more than just her playing admittedly. Plus Massimo is wicked on the kit and Santiago the bassist is definitely their secret weapon.

The show was close enough to our front door that we went home early in the morning to get some sleep after the drunken 'King of the Skanks' kept us up with their regalia, I nearly got in a scrap with them near dawn as I went to back up the lesbian who was hoping her lady and her could get some rest. After actually calling them the king of skanks, pure Ricky Lake and Jerry Springer their buddy broke it off - thankfully I would have been pummeled but at least they appreciated the metaphors. Actual snippet heard from Jenna (queen of the skanks): "well at least I didn't walk around the bar all night with 'stuff' on my face from blowing some guy whose name you don't know". Response: "for the record I know his name".

Sunday was full of a real mix of stuff from Bitch and Animal (Righteous Babe) who I missed (apparently they had five year old kids in the front row spelling DILDO with their parents urging them on) to Palenke Orchestra, Alejandro Escovado, House of Velvet, Noah 23, Nick Ali and Cruzao plus the Michelle Shocked closer. HOV rocked as usual as did Noah, Cruzao was particularly suiting on the Island stage as the sun set and dusk settled. And Michelle Shocked just blew my mind. I had real preconceptions about what she might be like, they were probably at least partly affirmed, but she still rocked. The whole set, full of what she calls something like new dub gospel birdsong, was breathtaking. I don't know the tunes really but one was probably called something like It's Amazing, another was about Anchorage Alaska (in the middle of which she stopped singing to berate someone for videotaping), and another about the backroads of East Texas in which the audience largely women sang the chorus sending shivers up my spine. Then a really brief encore with local chick group the Waifs and no Hillside Mountain Jam closer as advertised. The story that's come out now is that they may have been using that set as a placeholder keeping open the possibility of a last minute headliner rumoured to be Keith Richards due to in part his interest in Alejandro Escovado's music (which I didn't mention was really cool but hard to explain sort of Jeff Buckley meets the Latin Playboys). Rumours have actually circulated that Mick Jagger was actually there which I find very hard to believe. The rest sounds plausible though. Anyways great festival but they need to book Nero, Jimmy Swift and Grand Theft Bus next year. They do these really cool workshops with multiple bands- you get the gist. Apparently the Constantines and By Divine Right did some Talking Heads during their workshop the day before.

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Wow, talk about timing ... I was just getting ready to write a few thoughts about Hillside and bang, I notice kung's post. Here are a few more thoughts about the festival.

First off, this is a huge production, with 4 stages, lots of great food, workshops for everyone, etc. ... lots for the whole family to do. The festival ended up selling out on the Saturday.

Each day starts at 11 a.m. with a huge drum jam in front of the main stage ... and man are there drummers at Hillside. They run drum workshops all weekend at the festival and the quality of drummers at Hillside during the weekend is phenomenal.

My Friday night highlight was Passenger out of Guelph ... funky, groovy, psychedelic r&b music that would fit right in at Frontier Town ... I'm hoping I can make it happen for Labour Day.

Saturday was a family-oriented day, meaning my wife and I did lots of stuff with the kids while taking in "chunks" of music all day. Heard lots of good stuff. Bullfrog was lots of fun but didn't take me over the edge. However, I missed the very end of their set, which I heard from a distance, and it sounded hotter than most of what I'd heard up until then.

Sunday was my favourite of the 3 days ... started out with Bitch & Animal while swimming in Guelph Lake with the family right beside the stage that they played at. Yes they are raging lesbian feminists, but they grooved, had great stage presence, and they were hilarious!!! Songs about a car crash (which was really groovy), vaginas (one called pussy manifesto), dildos, etc. At one point I went into the tent to check them out and there were lots of people dancing up a storm, mainly women, some topless, and yes some kids ... after all it is a family festival and they played in the early afternoon. One of my favourite acts from the weekend.

My other highlights from Sunday were House of Velvet, a Guelph based reggae band that played their cd release party (Liana my wife loves reggae so we were grooving, and we had a babysitter for the kids on Sunday night), and Michelle Shocked, one of our favourites from years ago. She made Liana and I laugh, she made us teary, and she made us shiver. She had 3 great musicians with her and the only thing I didn't really care for was she got a bit "religious sounding" at one point ... but then she broke into the song When I Grow Up, which just rocked big time!!! I thought her set kind of faded out a bit ... I was hoping for a more intense ending, but on the whole it was a great set of music and entertainment ... lots of stage presence from the whole band.

I wish Nick Ali & Cruzao didn't have so many sound problems at the start of their set, as they turned Liana and I off. We were right up front for them, and the band was obviously really pissed off at the lack of sound coming through the stage monitors ... they were so pissed that it turned me right off. Musicians ... don't swear and act totally pissed about the sound when you are on stage ... people are watching you and it is a turn-off. Yes do what you can to let the sound guy know you have problems, but do it politely.

On the whole a great event ... I look forward to next year's festival. I highly recommend this festival to anyone looking for a family festival with a great range of music and lots of stuff other than music. But yes, this festival needs a few bands like nero, GTB, JSB, etc. Hillside does have a web site and discussion forum so when the time comes we should go on a letter writing campaign!

Peace, Mark

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