This past weekend, North Bay, Ontario was host to Summer In The Park. This has become a tradition in the city for several years. It features a midway, vendors, exhibits and live entertainment. As for me, this was my first time attending. The line-up was too good to miss!
Friday’s scheduled performances were suppose to be a local band called Gravitas, Autumn Hill, Michelle Wright and Johnny Reid. Mother Nature decided not to play nice and postponed the show by three hours. We were told that only Johnny Reid would be performing. However, when Johnny came back for his encore, he happily informed us that Michelle Wright would be coming out to do a shortened set.
Johnny Reid began his set by making a grand entrance sliding across a rather damp stage and didn’t miss a beat as he broke into song. He delighted us with some old favourites and several selections from his up-coming album, due out November 13th. A funny highlight of the evening happened when Johnny said he was afraid he was going to wipe out on stage and was considering removing his shoes and socks. Well, a song or two after that, he did! The audience cheered and laughed! From that point on, he was bouncing around the stage with more freedom, only commenting once that his tootsies were feeling a little cold. It is performances like this one, that make Johnny Reid a favourite contender for this year’s CCMA Fan’s Choice Award.
Michelle Wright came out singing a few acapella versions of songs while her band and the sound techs got their mixes on track. They had been erased earlier when the announcement came that she wouldn’t be performing. With her class and grace, she entertained till all was good to go, including a nice tribute to Lynn Anderson, who passed away the day before. Michelle told us how she stayed at Anderson’s pool house, for a month, when she first moved to Nashville and how she was invited in for dinners and parties and just to hang out. Michelle crammed in as many songs as she could for an hour’s set. She even stayed after to meet with fans, who had endured all the bad weather that evening, just to say hello, take a few photos and sign some autographs.
Saturday saw clearer skies with a 40% chance of lightning. Thankfully, any dark clouds made their way around us, with only a few sprinkles. The line-up consisted of North Bay’s Kings of our Kin, Stone the Radio, Alan Frew and Burton Cummings.
I have been a fan of Glass Tiger from back in their hay days of the ’80’s. Alan Frew did not disappoint. The man has an infectious smile that rarely quits. And, there’s just something, for this girl anyway, about a Scottish accent. He did many of the Glass Tiger hits and some of the ones he wrote or co-wrote for other artists, including “Fire It up”, first recorded by Johnny Reid. Joe Cocker also did a rendition of this song. It was his last recording before his death in 2014. Another song Frew performed is the 2010 Olympic Broadcast Theme, “I Believe”, which he also co-wrote.
What can I say about Burton Cummings? In a nutshell, at 67 years old, the man still has his “Own Way To Rock”! He is a legend and a Canadian Icon. One of the best song writers of our time. He has won countless awards and recognitions and helped put Canada on the Rock and Roll map! Seeing him perform on Saturday night melted away 30 odd years for me. I was back in my teens and having one heck of a good time singing along to every song and dancing my heart out. I wasn’t alone in this crowd. Everyone around me was on their feet and doing the same. Two straight hours of music and we still could have hug around for another two just to keep the energy going.
The organizers of Summer in the Park did a fantastic job to ensure our safety and enjoyment over this past weekend. Thank you!
For more information on the event visit www.summerinthepark.ca