(formerly the Peterborough Festival of Lights)
Peterborough Musicfest Re-Visited
by Festival Nomad "Scoop" Correspondent, Judi McWilliams
It had been a few years since we had visited the Peterborough Musicfest. Actually when had visited it, it had been known as the Peterborough Festival of Lights. This was going to be an exciting day, because the “@PerfectWknds Travel Report” crew was going to be attending and video taping their final episode and we were going to interview "Jason & Joanne", the hosts of the show. We arrived in mid-afternoon and met with the producers of the "@PerfectWknds Travel Report” and the promotions manager, Jeff Woods from The Agency Nextdoor. Just as the interview was being completed, the skies drew dark and eventually the rain started to fall. Fortunately it was a light rain and didn't last for very long. We left the restaurant area where we had conducted the interview and walked amongst the marina admiring the boats that were moored there. Adjacent to the Marina is the Del Crary Park.
Peterborough Musicfest, starting their 28th season in 2014, provides diverse, affordable live music to enrich cultural and economic prosperity in Peterborough. Each summer the Festival presents 18 concerts on Wednesday and Saturday evenings in Del Crary Park on the shores of beautiful Little Lake. All concerts are free to ensure that all members of the community can enjoy an evening of entertainment. The line-up is fantastic and can be found on the Peterborough Musicfest website. They offer concert goers free music entertainment from Folk Rock, to Celtic, Pop, Contemporary, Country, Alternative, Classic Rock, Rock, Tribute Bands, Soft Rock, Soul/R&B Tributes, Folk, to Broadway/Bluegrass. What more could anyone ask?
The Musicfest is held in the large park that contains a futuristic looking stage. In front of the stage there is VIP seating, where guests can view the concerts "up-close-and-personal". The main seating area, behind the VIP seating, is where festival visitors can bring their own chairs, blankets, pillows, and comforts of home to enjoy the concerts. This massive area is great to view and hear all the sounds and sights. There really are no "bad" places to sit, as the park slopes downward towards Little Lake, where a huge fountain spills out rushing water with lights reflecting on the water.
There was still some time before the concert started and "@PerfectWknds Travel Report", Jason and Joanne and crew had started to video prior to the concert. Gary and I were able to stand close and watch tapping. At the time we started watching there were not too many people in the park. Suddenly, as the video was wrapping up, more and more people started to arrive and claim their spots on the grassy field. Since people were starting to entre the VIP area, we decided we should make our way there and claim seats for ourselves. We had wanted to be in a good position to take some great shots of the upcoming performance. We knew that it was going to be an exciting night because Rolling Stone Tribute Band, Hot Rocks were going to perform. The seats were soaking wet from the rain earlier and a kind gentleman behind us offer to share his towel to dry them off. It seems the Peterborough Musicfest crowds are avid festival goers who came prepared. Many had umbrellas, blankets, wet pants and all the comforts for any kind of weather. You could clearly see the "Rolling Stones Fans" in the audience as they couldn't help themselves from moving to the rhythm of the music and clapping their hands all night long. As an aside, I am not familiar with the Rolling Stones. The main "tribute character, musician" drove up in his long black car with a license plate that read "Jagger". We had read that this particular band is one of the most famous for the members actually looking like the "Rolling Stones" original members. The concert got of to a great start. The group was fantastic, for both those who knew the songs and those who didn't. Roars of excitement went up a lot as "Jagger" danced and jumped all over truly taking on the "part" to a "tee". During the intermission, "@PerfectWknds Travel Report", Jason and Joanne representing the Kawarthas Northumberland Region came on to offer their assistance for the draw. They also finished up their video tapping with their final "butter tart" tasting journey and a short video on the massive screen above the stage for all to see. On with the show! It rained a little harder, and then stopped. The crowds continued to cheer, clap and sway to the music, undaunted. With familiar songs etched in our minds, Gary and I left the park humming along to the music that could still be heard as we walked to our car parked, located way down a side street. It was a great night and we are looking to return another year. Another "@PerfectWknds" weekend, another successful Peterborough Musicfest night!
Throughout the summer Judi and I have been trying to visit the Peterborough Musicfest! Our first attempt in the early summer was aborted part way through our trip due to Judi becoming quite ill. Our next two attempts were cancelled due to series thunder storms. So, here it is at the end of the summer and only one concert to go! This was it! No illnesses or thunder storms were going to prevent us from going to Peterborough and the Musicfest. Besides, the sun was shining and the birds were singing! What could go wrong! Nothing! We drove to Peterborough and arrived in the early afternoon. We had decided to take in the entire festival, the main stage performances, the secondary stage performances and all the vendors. Also, there was waterfront to look at along with the boats in the harbour. The Peterborough Musicfest concerts are held in the Del Crary Park close to the downtown area. The park is situated right next to Little Lake and the Peterborough Marina. When we arrived at the park, the main stage was in the process of being set up for the evening performances. Sound checked were being made every few minutes. Judi and I set up our folding chairs to watch! Shortly after setting up our chairs, the featured performers came on stage to help with the sound check. They partially performed some of their songs, while technicians moved wires, adjusted sound levels and shouted instructions. At first the sound was loud and grainy. It then progressively moved to just “loud”! Let’s face it, they were a “Rock and Roll Group”, were supposed to be “loud”! We watched in fascination for a while longer and then got up to search for Stage ll. (Click HERE to view video clip of the practice)
We left the main stage area in search of Stage ll. We started walking on the brick pathway that led to the western edge of the parks. As we walked along the pathway we passed a number of food vendors. A small stage had been set up and a singer was performing on stage. A number of people had set up folding chairs and were sitting listening to the music. We joined the group to listen. The program told us that the man on stage was Dan Brooks. We stayed for a while to enjoy Dan’s performance. From there we walked back towards the Marina. I had wanted to find the Festival Manager, Kathy Kirkland, and introduce ourselves to her. We had tried to find her earlier, but she hadn’t arrived at the festival grounds. This time we had more luck and found Kathy and the Site Program Manager, Scott Martin, at the back of the main stage. They enthusiastically welcomed us and told us about the evening’s performances. They were busy, so we left them to continue their organizing tasks. From this meeting, we decide to find somewhere to eat. Right next to the stage area was the Marina Restaurant. The restaurant was on the second floor, so we climbed the stairs to it. The balcony in front of the restaurant gave us a great view of Little Lake. The tour boat that we had seen earlier, tied the dock, was now motoring out onto the Lake for a sightseeing tour! After eating, we climbed back down the stairs and headed back along the pathway to Stage ll. A new performer was now on stage. The program told that the singer was Sarah Loucks. As before, several people had set up folding chairs to listen to Sarah’s music. We found a place to sit and joined the others in quiet attention. The audience continued to grow until the small area was quite full. After Sarah had completed her performance, we continued our walk around the park. Several vendors had completed the set up of their booths and people we now investigating them. The area around the main stage was beginning to fill with people. We walked back to our folding chairs and sat down to “people watch”! Kathy had offered us seats in the “pit” area in front of the stage, but we didn’t want to take them too early. Finally, the evening’s MC, Kerry Walker of the Wolf Radio Station, came on stage to makes some pre-concert announcements. We were getting close to the start of the concert!
The Concert – Part One
Kerry Walker came out again onto the stage. It was time to start the festivities. Peterborough Music General Manager, Kathy Kirkland, was introduced. She thanked the large crowd for coming to the season’s last performance and then asked the event sponsors to come onto the stage. She thanked them in turn and presented each one of them a certificate of appreciation. With the opening preliminaries over, it was show time! First on stage was “Hello Operator”. Hello Operator is a rising Canadian Rock Band from Toronto. The band consists of Mike Condo (vocals, guitar) and Evan Huson (synthesizer, vocals). As of this performance they had just returned from California where they were writing music and preparing for their new album. Some of their songs include: “55 Regrets”, “Take Me Away” and “She Lies Like the Devil”. This was a very lively group and the audience loved them! After Hello Operators performance was over, there was a short intermission while the next group set up. Judi decided that she would prefer to listen to the remainder of the concert at the back of the park. Meanwhile, I decided to walk outside the “Pit” enclosure to take a look at the crowd. The numbers were overwhelming! At the side of the stage a signing area had been set up where bands could sign autographs and sell memorabilia. There was already a large line up of fans waiting to see Hello Operator. After “stretching my legs”, I returned to my seat. The second performance was about to start!
The Concert – Part Two
The next and final band to take the stage was “SWEET”. Sweet is from the United Kingdom and had been around in one form or another since the late 1960’s. Their debut album came out in December 1970. There is a great write up about the group in Wikipedia. The members of the 1970-1977 band were Brian Connolly (lead vocals), Andy Scott (vocals, guitar, synthesizers, cello), Steve Priest (vocals, bass) and Mike Tucker (drums, percussion, backing vocals). The members of the present band are Peter Lincoln (lead vocals, bass), Andy Scott (vocals, guitar, synthesizers), Steve Grant (keyboards, synthesizers, backing vocals) and Bruce Bisland (drums, percussion). Sweet’s songs include: “The Ballroom Blitz”, “Fox on the Run” and “Live is Like Oxygen”. We had heard Sweet warming up in the afternoon, so we knew that they were quite LOUD! We had asked Kathy Kirkland about it! She just smiled and handed a pair of earplugs each! The group came on stage and didn’t disappoint an eager crowd! The group’s energy and enthusiasm pulled the audience along on a musical journey through time. Even those who didn’t remember their songs were caught up with the music! Originally I had thought I might need the earplugs. I tried them on for one song, but they muted the music too much, so I took them out. I wanted to hear the music as it was meant to be heard, purely! Partway through Sweet’s performance I decided to leave the front and make my way to the back of the park. I wanted to rejoin Judi for the rest of the concert. I fought my way through the 1000’s of concert fans. After much squeezing and pushing I arrived at the back of the park. Now to find Judi! We has pre-arranged a meeting spot, but it was dark and, as I said, there were 1000’s of people. After much looking I finally found Judi where we had agreed. We listen to the remainder of the concert from the comfort of our folding chairs. I was amazed at how well the sound carried to the back of the a park. If anything the sound was louder at the back! Judi had her earplugs in! Once the concert was over, we made our way back to our car which was on a side street close by. On our way festival fireworks lite up the sky. We watched the sparkling fireworks create amazing patterns as they reflected in the still water of the lake and then we climbed into our car. The day had been bright and sunny and we had had a great day and evening. I am glad the we had finally made it to the Peterborough Musicfest! As we drove away a light rain started to fall!