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Greenbelt Harvest Picnic


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Yeah I had such a splendid time on Saturday. It was exactly what I needed. Such a great community feel. Loved the fact that all my favourite local farmers played such a huge role in setting the tone of the event. Music was fabulous. Weather was perfect. Great vibe. The food line-ups at prime time were a little out of control, so hopefully that will be taken into consideration next year, as it sounds like this will become an annual event. You were able to walk around freely with your drinks. One could even buy wine by the bottle if they were so inclined.

Tonnes of kids having a grand old time. My little man has definitely become a Lanois fan. I was getting a kick out of watching people get a kick out of watching him rockin' out to those special little moments.

Sigh. Post-bonfire wind down was perfect to.

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This had to be one of the best all round musical events I have ever been to in my 30+ years of seeing concerts. Rarely do you go to an event where the mix of young and old are having such a grand old time. Our 3 had a hoot. The food mix was great, Ethiopian food at a music festival come on. The lineups for drinks moved very efficiently there was lots of greenspace, I could go on and on it was definitely worth the drive back to Hammer and as a bonus we got to see some old friends that we hadn't seen in years. Edger, would have been nice to bump into you and Todd, maybe next year.

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Edger, would have been nice to bump into you and Todd, maybe next year.

Absolutely. The kids would probably have a ball too. I believe I recall you posting that you guys moved to Stratford area? We've got some great friends in that area that you would likely get along real well with. Perhaps a little jam/play date should be arranged... Cheers!

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It was indeed a very well run event, everyone I have talked to was impressed with how well it came together (particularly for a first time around). Beautiful location, space to throw a frisbee, great sound, pretty good food and $5 cans of Steamwhistle. We loved the freedom of no beer tents as well.

It was verrrry mellow where we were, 3/4 of the way back on the grass - very quiet, nothing more than whispers really.

Between sets on the main stage, there was live music being played from inside the soundboard tent. I didn't get close up to see at all, but I was told that this was Brian Blade, maybe Daniel Lanois (sometimes?), and maybe others. It sure sounded like those sonic Lanois/Blade jams to me.

There is a CD that Lanois released specially for this show, called Harvest Festival 2011 or soemthing like that. I didn't get a copy... But want one now! Can anyone help me out?

All in all it was better than I might have expected, I hope they do it again next year!

Edited by Guest
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Found this review here:


Daniel Lanois’s Harvest Picnic

August 27

Christie Lake, Dundas, Ontario

Just as I wasn’t expecting Emmylou Harris’s set to comprise almost entirely of her 1995 classic Wrecking Ball—which was produced by Daniel Lanois, who invited her to play the inaugural incarnation of what he hopes will be an annual festival just outside his hometown of Hamilton—I’m positive Harris didn’t think that material would have such resonance on a day of national mourning and a state funeral.

“I can’t remember if we said goodbye.â€

“See what you lost when you left this world, this sweet old world.â€

“Where will I be when that trumpet sounds?â€

“It don’t matter where they bury me. I’ll be home and I’ll be free.â€

She even apologized at one point—how unnecessarily Canadian of her!—before introducing her elegy for the late Kate McGarrigle: “I’m sorry so many of my songs are about death.â€

Morbid historical context aside, it was an absolute joy to hear Harris play this material, segueing seamlessly out of Lanois’s own solo set and featuring him and his band (though arguably the biggest name on the bill, Lanois slotted himself third down the bill). She’s done plenty of fine work since Wrecking Ball emancipated her from the confines of country music, but listening to it with fresh ears was a reminder that nothing else in her discography has touched that towering achievement. Its success owes as much to the choice of material (Lucinda Williams, Gillian Welch, Steve Earle, Neil Young, Jimi Hendrix, Anna McGarrigle) as it does to Harris and Lanois.

The set capped a perfect day that bode well for the future of this festival. The weather was perfect; Christie Lake is an easily accessible, lush and large space for a family-friendly concert; the emphasis on local organic food was a big plus; and the beer and bathroom lines were perfectly manageable.

One of my only quibbles is that set times were not posted; my family arrived at 4.30 p.m. to find Sarah Harmer more than halfway through her set. Which is a shame; after over a year of performing her album Oh Little Fire, her band easily locks into a groove and breathes more life into the material than can be heard on the album.

Harmer was followed by her old friend Gord Downie, with his Country of Miracles band. I’ve seen Downie twice before in the last 12 months; once was a rousing performance at the Hillside Festival, the other a sublime set at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, which found him creating evocative water paintings on stage with an overhead projector. Here, he was a bit off his game, seeming like he was jumping on stage right after a summer vacation; he wasn’t his usual compelling self—at times uncharacteristically at a loss for words between songs—and Tragically Hip drummer Johnny Fay was filling in for an absent Dave Clark. It was the more laid-back material (“Trick Rider,†“Chancellor,†“Yellow Daysâ€) that resonated the most in this relaxed atmosphere; no one there was particularly ready to rock, with lawn chairs taking up almost all the space in front of the stage.

Lanois appeared with a new rhythm section unconnected to his current Black Dub project; they covered that band’s “Ring the Alarm,†but otherwise dipped deep into Lanois’s discography, the only “hits†being “The Messenger†and “The Maker.†The trio was in full-on psychedelic blues jam mode—though displaying considerably more subtlety than that descriptor would suggest—with Lanois’s guitar sounding a lot like that of Neil Young’s on the album they made together (2010’s Le Noise). The only misstep was the Brazilian carnival dancers brought onstage to writhe in the least sensuous manner imaginable. There was nothing alluring nor even interesting about the presentation; it was simply tacky.

After Harris’s set, Ray LaMontagne shuffled on stage to close the evening. Never having heard a note of his music before this show, his popularity is a complete mystery to me. There’s dull music that I find easy to ignore, and then there’s dull music that I find offensive; LaMontagne’s limp folk rock is certainly the latter, sounding like little more than third-rate Neil Young leftovers sung in an aching, earnest voice for aging Pearl Jam fans. Harsh? Hey, some of my best friends are rapturous fans of his. But the best thing I can say about his buzzkill set is that it allowed us to skip out early and beat the parking lot rush. Which I’m going to consider an unconscious gift on the part of the organizers, just another small detail they got right in planning what will hopefully be a new Southern Ontario summer tradition.

Lord knows that Lanois has an address book full of people he could haul to his neck of the woods for a good party.

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To each their own'd

I had a great time at this festival. Perfect set up for a family fest, my 6 year old daughter had a tonne of fun. The beach was a plus and the water (no poo water here) was a refreshing bonus. The beer line always looked big but it moved along very well. Only one kind of beer though, with the organic nature of the vending they could have got some local craft breweries in there. I brought my own snacks so I didn't really try out any food, but I heard good things.

Musically I enjoyed most of it. The Lanois and Harris sets being the best and grooviest in my mind. Sarah Harmer and Gord Downie were kind of 'meh' to me but other people surely enjoyed it. Ray sounded great, they definitely cranked his set up louder than the rest. I agree with others that he shouldn't have closed the fest but I suppose it was a good way to have people wind down before they leave and get into the traffic exiting. We left a few minutes early and beat the traffic. All in all, good times. Special thanks to my ride, good times during and after.

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