Burlington Sound of Music Festival


by Festival Nomad, Gary McWilliams

There Was Music Everywhere…

It had all started 30 years ago! The Sound of Music Festival in Burlington, that is! Back then it wasn’t called the Sound of Music and it didn’t have music everywhere or over 90 performers! It was, however, a great music event that was fun for the whole family. When I heard the Executive Director, Dave Miller, talk about the event, I knew that it was one event that I “must visit”! I decided to visit the Festival on the Saturday. The weather was very stormy in the morning and it was a bit touch and go, but by noon the skies were clearing, so I decided to head west to Burlington. By the time I reached Burlington, the rain had all but stopped. I had a quick lunch at Tim Hortons and then traveled to the downtown area. Once I parked my car, I walked to Brant Street, the main downtown street. Because of the rain most of the booths and outdoor restaurants had yet to be set up. However, as I walked down the street there were musicians playing at a few of the intersections. At each one, people had gathered to listen. I stopped to listen with them. Near the end of Brant Street I came to the Festival Information Booth. Here I was able to get further information about the Burlington Sound of Music Festival and where the concerts were taking place. Armed with a Festival Program I headed towards the music!

I Headed Towards the Music…

After I had left the Information Booth and crossed Lakeshore Road, I entered Spencer Smith Park. This is a large downtown park that runs parallel to the shores of Lake Ontario. As I headed down the road into the park and was about to pass a number of vendors’ tents, I was “asked” to “check-out” the Nexxice booth. I was immediately introduced to the world of “Synchronized Skating” and to two of the Nexxice stars, Jennifer Beauchamps, member of the 2009 Senior World and Canadian Championship Team and Madeline Durocher, member of the 2009 Junior World Silver medalists and Canadian Championship Team! This is a growing sport and is rapidly coming to the world stage. The 2009 Senior World Synchronized Skating Championships were held in Zagreb, Croatia while the 2009 Junior World Synchronized Skating Championships were held in Neufchatel, Switzerland. I left the Nexxice booth and continued down the road into the park. At the bottom of the incline was the Burlington Mall Family Zone. Families, children and adults, were gathered around the stage enjoying the music and dancing of “Splash n’ Boots”. I listened for a while and then continued on my trek of the park. I passed a few more booths and headed towards the music! I came to the Bell Stage. There was a large crowd gathered in front of the stage! They were listening to the sweet sounds of The Wilkinsons, the Belleville family that has taken the Country Music scene by storm! I joined the crowd to listen. On stage, they were performing “Heal Me” featuring the vocals of Amanda Wilkinson. I stayed for quite some time and then continued exploring the park. Along the way I passed several food booths, a Royale Bathroom Tissue booth and the Sound of Music Festival’s Carnival. Everywhere people were enjoying themselves! Part way along my walk I came to the Burlington Hyundai Community Stage. I stayed and listened while a young local couple performed in front of a small crowd. The whole atmosphere was very entertaining! I continued on my journey and headed towards more music!

Along the Waterfront Walkway and Beyond…

As I reached the west end of the park, I came to the OLG Music Stage. A large crowd was gathered around the front and sides of the stage. Performing on the stage was Ubiquitous Synergy Seeker or better known as USS. According to their bio, “the band is fronted by master craftsman Ash Boo-Schultz and backed by turntablist and hype man extraordinaire Human Kebab…” I stood and watched. Their performance and antics had the crowd energized! I stayed until the end and then followed the crowd back along the waterfront walkway. On my way back to the east end of the park I passed a “multi-coloured” people moving train, more vendors booths and a Tim Hortons coffee trailer. I walked by the Hortons’ trailer with great reluctance! Finally I reached the east end of the park and crossed Lakeshore Road to Brant Street. I wanted to visit the stage on Pearl Street. It was quite the hike, but well worth it! I had just missed the Fashion Show, but was in time to hear Burlington’s own “Killin’ Time Band”!. This was a lively group that really enjoyed playing their music! From Pearl Street I walked back to Brant Street. There was one more stage to visit! This time it was the Cogeco Stage. Members of the Sicilian Jazz Project were just tuning their instruments. I stayed until they were ready to play and then left after they had completed a few numbers. It was time to head east to another event. As I left Burlington I thought about the Sound of Music Festival and its 30 year history. The fact that the Festival had started out to honour of their Teen Tour Band so many years ago, is a tribute to the town, its people and their wonderful spirit. It’s no wonder that this event is one of Ontario’s top 100 festivals! My short visit was limited to only a few great performances, but the whole weekend was chalked full of “Canada’s Best”! From Thursday’s Divine Brown, to Sunday’s Tom Cochrane and Red Rider, the Burlington Sound of Music Festival lived up to its tremendous reputation!