It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of summer. Not just the sun and the warmth but most importantly, the festival season. When the festival lineup announcements start popping up in the spring, I get all giddy and start drafting a schedule of the ones I’ll definitely be attending that year.
When one of our favourite radio stations, Rebel 101.7, announced they will be hosting the 2nd annual Mountain Man Festival at Calabogie Peaks Resort only an hour away from Ottawa, it was pretty much a no-brainer to go and check out the weekend festivities.
The Weather Network was posting not-so-promising forecasts with thunder storms and tornado warnings, but what kind of festival goer would I be if I let that scare me from attending?!
I headed over to Calabogie on Friday evening for the first night of festival well prepared with a rain coat and protective sleeves for my camera gear only to be greeted with clear skies and a small cheerful crowd. My only regret that evening would be forgetting to bring bug spray as the vicious black flies decided to attack my face as soon as I entered the festival grounds eventually resulting to a red and swollen eye and bloody face. But physical injuries aside, the first evening was the night of rocknroll and beers, and no bugs were going to stop that.
Crossing Jane opened the evening with an energetic set of covers, before letting Toronto’s Diemonds loose on stage. The front woman Priya Panda’s powerful vocals and the extremely talented guitarists CC Diemond and Daniel Dekay’s guitar solos were bound to deliver exactly what the crowd came to see, badass rocknroll.
Friday evening’s headliner was Saskatoon’s One Bad Son who have within the past few years been releasing a hit song after a hit song. The band put on a one hell of a rock show on Friday night, and it’s hard not to have their songs stuck in your head for the rest of the week or two.
Still buzzing from the festival’s first night, I decided to allow myself to sleep in and headed back to Calabogie early afternoon on Saturday and sadly missed the first two acts, Kyle Lalone and Toronto’s The Owns.
I made it to the festival right on time when Ottawa’s Iconoclast was starting their set. Having recently gone through some lineup changes after guitarist Dave Di Ubaldo’s move to Alberta, the band was playing one of their first shows with their newest addition, bassist Fahim Rahman, who is also known from hard rock band Aenigma. The charismatic singer Marc Bourgon and his band were able to wake up the afternoon crowd for the next act on the bill, Ottawa’s sleaze rockers, In Heat.
In Heat’s shows are guaranteed to be entertaining and I’m always excited to see which outfit the singer Lexxi Splitlip will be wearing for the show. Festival’s youngest audience clearly found the band’s performance intriguing and parked themselves right in front of the stage, and were rewarded when guitarist Brent Walker walked over to get them help him play.
Next in the lineup was Hellbros, who not only have been branded Canada’s loudest rock band, but also spread their wings on their first European tour last summer. The singer Peter Just not only has an impressive set of lungs, but has clearly sharpened his comedy skills bantering back and forth with drummer Josh Roy in between the songs.
The evening’s first headliner, Montreal’s The Damn Truth have been getting a lot of media within the past year, since singer Lee-la Baum’s heart wrenching rendition of “Love is Blindness” in the YSL commercial last year.
Baum’s amazing chops and style have been compared to none other than Janis Joplin’s and she has clearly chosen the right band to back her up, and they all played seamlessly together for the one hour set to adoring fans.
Much anticipated The Glorious Sons closed off the second night of the festival with noticeably larger crowd from the first night and towards the first half of the set, the skies finally opened and sprinkled some rain on the festival crowd who did not care.
Singer Brett Emmons paced the stage bare feet with a wine bottle in his hand and lovingly roughed up with his bandmates during the songs. The audience left the festival grounds satisfied with day full of some of Canada’s finest rocknrollers.
Hesitating for a split second on Sunday morning after seeing the tornado warning on the weather app, I packed up my gear for the last afternoon of the event. I narrowly missed the opener, Infrared, and got on site for Ottawa’s metal band A Scar For The Wicked.
All the tents had already disappeared from the camping area but a handful of most loyal fans were head banging in front of the stage in the scorching early afternoon sun.
Gatineau’s Inire closed the festival with an extra long set after the last band of the day was unable to make it, and they certainly gave their all, and the audience that was still left on site was ecstatic.
This year’s attendance numbers might have not been the highest, but the crowd was most certainly enthusiastic. Calabogie Peaks is a wonderful venue for a smaller scale festival like Mountain Man, and the organizers have done a great job booking amazing bands and setting up the festival site.
We here at Sound Check Entertainment are hoping that the Mountain Man festival continues for us to enjoy for the years to come.
For more information on the event and for details on the 2018 edition when they are announced visit: www.mountainmanfestival.com, naturally we’ll have full details as they are announced next spring.
By Laura Collins.