Burnaby Blues & Roots Festival
Reviewer: Patricia Fleming
The crowd definitely
soaked up the music, and then some, last Saturday at the 5th Annual Burnaby
Blues & Roots Festival held in the lovely setting of Deer Lake Park,
The first set on the Main Stage introduced the Boston based, Tarbox Ramblers with drums, maracas, tambourine, banjo, bass, guitar and a lead singer with a very primitive sounding voice – gravely, and a mix of Lucinda Williams and Lonnie Donegan , the master of skiffle in England back in the 50’s and 60’s. They played a mixture of up-tempo songs, an apocalyptic gospel number, a tune from their first CD and a work in progress.
While the Main stage was being set up for the next performer, the music shifted over to the Casino Stage for about 20 minutes of music from the local band. Unfortunately, as it was raining, I didn’t make it over to see the local bands but I could hear their great blues sound.
The always good Jim Byrnes Acoustic Band were up next with a very nice, mixed set of Bob Dylan, Neil Young songs, a lovely Mexican number with accordion, a Cole Porter tune, and a lovely banjo and slide guitar infused number he heard a lot when a young boy from “a Holler in Kentucky”.
Following the Jim Byrnes Band were Joajoby from Madagascar and it was time to dance! Impossible not to move listening to the funky sounds of Salegy, the national dance beat of Madagascar.
Salegy is a combo of popular and traditional music with lots of electric instruments and bewitching rhythms. Great percussion, and two young girls (daughters?) who enchanted us with their hi-swiveling, shimmy dancing) reminiscent of 1960’s Watusi).
Buckwheat Zydeco was
up next with accordions, trumpet, guitar, alto sax, a rub board (or Frottroir
as it is called in French) and a big dose of personality and a lot of
show. Buckwheat addressed the audience in his native Louisiana French
several times and put on quite a show. It was great fun to dance, with
and without umbrellas, to Hank Williams “Hey!..Good Lookin”
and other lively tunes.
I had never before seen Colin James in live performance and everything I had read and heard was true. What a great show! Great band, great choice of material. A mix of rock and blues and all done with great confidence and polish. He really gives it 110% and his guitar work is superb. I was very impressed. He quickly moved from one different guitar to another with a very Bluesy “Nothing is Better than Freedom” then “I’m Losing You, a John Lennon number and the funky “Bad Habits”. A great tribute song to Stevie Ray Vaughan, and a great rocking version of “Rock Me Baby” plus a wonderful version of Van Morrison’s “Into the Mystic”. Also “Voodoo” from a previous CD and “Anywhere is Home” from the new CD. A crowd favourite, his virtuoso guitar solos (with him down amongst the crowd) were a blast – we loved it. He came back for an encore with a Solomon Burke number and we all left but could have definitely stayed for more of him and his band.
The event was well
organized. Lots of different kinds of food. Facilities, wine and beer
(although the wine ran out early) and not restricted to one particular
area to drink made it easy. Perhaps the organizers might want to consider
a few more awnings next year (or move the event so it doesn’t start
the day the PNE starts which seems to be the kiss of death vis-à-vis
a rainy event). The performers continued to thank the crowd all day for
being such troopers – and we were!
© 2004, Patricia Fleming