Some Other Thoughts & Highlights from the Fred Eaglesmith Picnic

– I have a theory that every time you go to a music festival, one artist will become a revelation.  That theory held true at the Fred Picnic last weekend.  Sam Baker was an amazing discovery in his Saturday night closing set.  Beyond his music, how's this for a backstory: while touring in Peru, he was on a train that had a time bomb explode, killing three passengers near him and causing injuries that damaged his hearing, his speaking ability and forced him to relearn the guitar as a leftie.  An article I read said the best tribute to a musician if their CD is passed around among other musicians and this is the response that Sam Baker's CD is getting.  Plus he ended his set with a version of Woody Guthrie's “Deportee” (in reference to the Fred Eaglesmith “Reflections” charity which was the main beneficiary of the money being raised over the weekend) which provided probably the magical musical moment of the Picnic. 

– ended up in the musician's area after the Saturday show while a few of the performers jammed.  Roger Marin played a version of Chris Knight's “William” that completely silenced the partying crowd.  Then Sam Baker gently joshed the assembled crowd when no one could help him remember the lyrics to an Ian Tyson song.  “I'm in Canada, I'm talking about a Canadian icon and no one knows the lyrics to “Wild Geese”?”  (Roger Marin even had to sheepishly admit that he'd played pedal steel behind Ian Tyson before but didn't know the words.)

– also got to meet the Ginn Sisters from Texas who were another revelation although not to the level of Sam Baker.  They said they were watching TV in their hotel earlier and had to text message all their friends back in Texas to tell them about a crazy Canadian Wendy's commercial that talked about their competitors being “burger whores”. (It was too good of a story to correct them that the commercial says “burger bores”)

Roger's daughter has officially replaced Quinn's puppy as my most photographed subject.  I'm a sucker for cuteness.


– met a number of Fredheads that I knew from the
Fred Eaglesmith Digest, some I'd met before and many I was meeting in person for the first time.  All were friendly and helpful to Shea and I as first-timers to the Fred Picnic but I have to specifically mention “Philadelphia Steve” who gave me some extra live recording CD's & DVD's he happened to have with him. 

– Fred played a set each of the three days but his Sunday set was my favourite – lots of his early songs, lots of his farming songs and lots of my personal favourites.  As always, his rants, stories and observations were as entertaining as his music throughout the weekend.  Some memorable ones were his rant against people who eat soybeans, his concerns about a “demanding woman” in the audience and a story about how a neighbour finally got a sprouting piece of corn that was stuck in his ear out by spraying it with Round-Up!

– getting to see Beer Doug, our friend from Calgary, was a highlight and around 3:30am on Saturday night/Sunday morning, we made plans to head to Niagara Falls as soon as the Picnic ended on Sunday to catch Roger Marin's backing band at a show there.  The plan was fine until five miles after we left the park when their van blew a tire and since not one of the four of us could figure out the tire release on his brother's van (or knew that owner's manuals are apparently stored under the passenger seat in these vehicles), we had to wait 45 minutes for CAA to arrive.  We still planned to go to Niagara Falls but by the time we got to his brother's place in Brantford, we decided to go for a bite to eat there and skip the concert.  (Probably a wise idea – Roger's band is actually a punk band when not backing a roots musician so we probably wouldn't have gotten a visit at the show anyhow.)


– In the end, it was a great weekend overall. Felt a bit like one of those holidays where you try to balance out seeing everything you can and just relaxing – we saw many of the bands but not all of them as we also spent some time at our campsite, some time exploring the park and also had to make a run to Thamesville for a funeral on Saturday morning.  But who knows – maybe someday when I'm making the big librarian bucks, we'll make it back or to one of the many other Fred picnics that now exist around North America in nothern Ontario, Texas, Vermont, Alberta (I think) and maybe 1-2 other places.  Or who knows – maybe we'll start one in Saskatchewan for ourselves?  (I know a great setting!)

Trackbacks & Pingbacks 1

  1. From Head Tale - Music Monday – “Everyone is at the mercy of another one’s dreams” (“Angels” by Sam Baker – A Song for Bombing Victims Everywhere) on 29 Apr 2013 at 12:33 am

    […] Sam Baker is an amazing songwriter I discovered while attending the Fred Eaglesmith Charity picnic in Alymer, Ontario in 2006. […]

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