RBC Bluesfest Press Images, Photo: Mark Horton
The closer I got to RBC Bluesfest, with every step I took, the cloud looked angrier and angrier. And by the time I got in line to get in it was raining pretty steady. This rain never really seemed to stop, it slowed at times, but it also picked up to the point it felt like someone was standing above me dropping full buckets of water on me. But for the love of music, you power through.
I was running late and unfortunately missed my good friends and awesome band, The Yips. So getting things started for me was John Carroll & the Epic Proportions. It was really cool to see him on the big Bell Stage, nice when they showcase local talent like that. John and his band played a great set, turns out it was even more impressive than I thought as he was pushing through even though he is suffering from E. coli. I love his tremendous voice and storytelling lyrics coupled with the great musicians he surrounds himself with. Always a treat.
From mellow to rowdy it was time for Dropkick Murphys to take the stage. I couldn’t get over how many people were there in the torrential downpour for the boys from Boston. It was one of the biggest crowds I’ve ever seen for them. They played a lot of new stuff for most of the set and then finished really strong. Set it all up with some covers including “Irish Rover”, and a medley of “Taking Care of Business”, “We’re an American Band” and “Blitzkrieg Bop”. Finishing with crowd favourite “Shipping Off to Boston”. And to show some love back to the crowd, bass player Ken Casey said, “We’ve never played a bad show in 20 years because we play for people like you. Thank you.”
The Tragically Hip, Canadian legends, kept the night rolling. I have seen the Hip several times, but they always impress. With that in mind we decided to take in half an hour of the set before making our way to see Bahamas. In those 30 minutes they crammed in a bunch of hits, “I come from downtown”, “Ahead by a Century”, “New Orleans is Sinking” and my childhood favourite “Courage”. It was a pretty awesome way to start. I am sure the rest of the set was much more of the same great classics and high energy.
From Canadian legends to another Canadian great, I was so excited to see Bahamas. The rain still coming down did little to hinder the performance or the atmosphere… nice try, Mother Nature. I believe there was no better performance at Bluesfest by someone wearing a cowboy hat than Bahamas. The songs were great, the between-song stories and banter were fun, and the band was very tight. They played all of my favourite tracks, including “I Got You Babe” and “Caught Me Thinking”. Then even through in a D’Angelo cover, “One Mo’ Gin“, which they performed perfectly. To top it all off he gave shout outs to what he called “great local venues” Babylon Nightclub and Zaphod Beeblebrox.
My shoes are just now finally dry, more than 24 hours after the show, but I have no complaints. The bands were all great, the vibe was positive despite the downpour and seeing music outside is such a treat sometimes you have to pay the price.