Manitoulin Countryfest is situated five minutes from the village of Little Current which is accessible via the swing bridge, the one we passed on the Songwriters Cruise at noon, south of Espanola and southwest of Sudbury. Therefore, all the necessities of life, including several good restaurants, are readily available. We chose Chinese food to fortify us for a return to the Countryfest site for Day Two’s shows which started at 6pm.
Opening day 2 was Me and Mae a British Columbia based country band. The band released their debut album in May 2014 which was quickly followed by a Nashville tour and a nomination for Top Country Best New Artist (2014) and a win at the BC Country Music Awards – the Ray McAuley Horizon Award (2014) They performed ‘You Only Live Once’ a new single set to be released soon. They were very high-energy and upbeat and closed their set with a rendition of an old favourite ‘Ring Of Fire’.
Next in the line-up was Lindsay Broughton who sang melodies of new and old country. Little known fact—she was a Zamboni driver! Lindsay writes about personal experiences including her single ‘I Can Do Anything’. Another song came when the love of her life cheated on her while she was in Nashville writing. She found out on Facebook. She went to her writing session crying and the hit song ‘Never Saw It Coming’ was born. To switch it up Lindsay performed ‘Shake Rattle and Roll’ and ‘Born To Be Wild’ with a country spin that had the audience rocking. After performing on the cruise, and entertaining the crowd, Lindsay headed to the autograph tent to meet her fans.
During the changeup on stage a group of 4H teens square danced on the grounds. These teens were from Massey ON and had learned to dance in a 4H Club. This is the 100th year of the 4H movement. On a personal note, I have 21 clubs and am pleased that my family have also learned from and enjoyed their 4H participation. 4Hers from Athabaska AB were here on an exchange and had visited seniors on the island prior to coming to Countryfest.
Next up was the legendary singer/songwriter, activist, multi-award winning, incredible, beautiful Buffy Sainte-Marie dressed in a stunning fringed top. Now into her 20th album, entitled ‘Power In The Blood’, she had no lack of material from which to choose. Many artists have recorded her songs. When Buffy introduced ‘Up Where We Belong’ she thanked Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes for recording it. Keeping with her cultural roots, Buffy sang the beautiful ‘No No Keshagesh’ to the delight of the Manitoulin audience. Introducing ‘Carry It On’ Buffy encouraged us to take care of the earth and our souls. She said that there is a lot of good work left to be done in this world. Before the show’s final song, ‘Starwalker’, Buffy said this next song is dedicated to generations past and little generations coming up. At the end of the performance her drummer treated us to a native dance just before they took their bow.
Headliner, Canadian rock idol Tom Cochrane, in his first visit to Manitoulin Island, proved he resonates well with rock and country fans. He regaled us with harmonica, guitar, and vocals. Tom spends his personal time between Oakville and Austin, Texas. Before singing ‘Sinking Like A Sunset’ he said Canadians are resilient and rise up again. Tom told us his mother used to drive him to hockey and commented that hockey pulls our small towns together. He said Bobby Orr asked him to play our song, but Tom says the song is not about those who made it, but rather those who didn’t hit the ‘Big League’. ‘Pink Time’ was about a trucker and his gal who lived on Georgian Bay. Tom interacted well with the crowd making good use of the runway. During ‘Life Is A Highway’ Lindsay Broughton and Beverley Mahood were invited onstage to join in the fun. Tom Cochrane and his tight, multi-instrument band clearly enjoyed entertaining the appreciative crowd. Thanks for making your first visit to Manitoulin, Tom!!
Here’s more highlights from Day 2 of the Countryfest!