On August 27, Ontario’s Green Belt farmers were given some much needed exposure at the 1st annual Harvest Picnic. Only a few thousand made it out to Dundas Ontario for this intimate event. Hosted by Hamilton native Daniel Lanois–his amazing lineup of special guest performers included Emmylou Harris, Sarah Harmer, Gord Downie and Ray Lamontagne.
Farmers and local artists lined the perimeter of the picnic all the way down to the lake where people were cooling off between sets. It was a hot and sunny day filled with plentiful local produce and even tastier local music.
Representing northern Ontario, Sarah Harmer and Gord Downie–and his band, The Country Of Miracles (featuring guitarist Don Kerr of the Rheostatics) warmed up the crowd as the hot sun set into the cool night. The value of the ticket was extraordinary considering the amazing lineup of musicians throughout the day.
The afternoon began with Silver Lake up-and-comer Rocco Deluca. He commanded the anxious audience with his sensual twist on folk music that had even my producers buckling their knees. Lanois’ eventually joined his Californian protege on stage as he wore many hats throughout the day making sure his 1st event ran smoothly.
Adding to Lanois’ long list of duties including photo-ops with fans and performing on the main stage–Lanois placed a stage directly in the middle of the crowd for intimate jams with his friends. Joining Lanois’ for up to six sets throughout the day included Rocco Deluca, Black Dub Bassist Jim Wilson and filing in for Brian Blade was drummer Steven Nistor–drummer for Brian Blade’s Mama Rosa.
Coming off a European tour with his band Black Dub, Lanois took the stage with his team eventually having Emmylou Harris come and perform her Lanois produced album, Wrecking Ball. As they finished, all (except Harris) hurried back to the stage amongst the crowd as the stage crew setup for the event’s headliner, Ray Lamontage.
Ray Lamontagne brought a certain elegance to the end of the festival. His band, The Pariah Dogs, were tight and solid–very refreshing after a long day of loud distorted jazz and rock. His music is beautiful and intimate–thus keeping up the theme that Lanois had worked hard to keep up throughout the day.
The overworked Lanois now knows what to expect for next year. As a outsider looking in, I applaud his efforts for a first run. Now, with his new studio based in downtown Toronto–let’s hope we see more of Daniel and his friends.
To read more about Black Dub’s summer tour and their two stops in Toronto: https://rossneversleeps.wordpress.com/2011/07/07/daniel-lanois-black-dub-end-their-canadian-leg-with-a-second-sold-out-show-at-torontos-opera-house/
Stay tuned next week for video interviews with Daniel Lanois’ band mates Steven Nistor, Jim Wilson and Lanois’ Silver Lake protege Rocco Deluca.