Opinions by D. J. Gaisin & L.A. Lobacita
The picnic has been around for 4 years but somehow flew below our personal radar…definitely our loss. This is one amazing production and even more than the incredible entertainment, it’s an educational opportunity. Advice on ‘green’ choices; awareness of local efforts and craft talent, coupled with some personal guidance, suggestions and education made this an unforgettable experience. Even the early uncooperative weather failed to dampen our or our lawn neighbours’ spirits. Fortunately it was drizzle – not downpour ‘cuz we neglected to bring folding chairs or blankets.
We received camera advice from Kevin; elucidation of what (not who) kale & urslane is from Karli; and lessons on finger-whistling from a patient Belinda. Alas, the latter, despite her & her family’s efforts, failed!
We are the ONTARIO ARTS REVIEW, so a little positive & negative reportage must be included. Having to visit dozens of booths oftimes took us away from both stages, thus an abbreviated critique of the performances seen. Brott’s condensed Academy Orchestra coupled the classics with some down east talent & Hamilton’s iconic Blues doyen –Rita Chiarelli. Boris had his NAO taking some musical style –lessons from Stephanie Cadman’s violin and awesome tap-dancing. To hear Boris using the jazz idiom epitomized his own multi-talent.
The audience sat spellbound while Sarah Harmer was giving every offering full measure, albeit with only 3 guitar chords. We applauded the maturing and mellowing of Alfie Smith’s renderings. It has been quite a while since we first heard him perform with the former White Oaks Folk Club. He’s come a long way.
Ron Sexsmith never fails to excite his audience. His ability to understate pieces, all the while using his mellow tenor to sell the song, is surely the basis for his star rating. This writer pays attention to lyrics and Suzanne Jarvie certainly needs some poetic assistance. Repetition may have worked for Boy George, but as a listener…it bores. For the too-long session of Gord Downie we needed earplugs from the St. John’s Ambulance crew. His patter, & Andy Gibb-ish perambulations were a distraction. As the opening performer and then again on the smaller front stage, Laura Cole was a delight. Her voice, manner, styling’s and compositions all resound.
There also was another group of performers. ‘LOS LOBOS’ owned the event. Must admit to a bias because we named our sailing yachts after their biggest hit and became enamored when they performed here back in ’06, at which time we gave them a photo of ‘La Bamba II’ as a souvenir. Surprisingly, they remembered us! More about that later*. For ninety minutes, they held the approximately 6,000-member audience awestruck. The impromptu dancing began in the VIP front-of-stage area, then spread until about ⅓ of the folks were out of their camp chairs and terps-ing to a Latin beat. We even noticed the upcoming & costumed aboriginal singers – salsa dancing. The things you miss when you don’t have a video recorder handy. It would have probably gone viral.
*After Los Lobos came off-stage, we approached them to get our old photograph autographed. Surprise, they remembered us and invited us to join them for dinner at the commissary tent, and help celebrate a 50th birthday occasion. Yikes! The perks we scribes can glean. Anyhoo, on learning that the muse’s maiden name was Wolfe, they started calling her ‘La Lobacita’, especially after she invited the whole mishpocha for a kosher dinner when they’re next up this way. Agreed menu decision: – Brisket with salsa & matzo ball soup!
GHTA & environ-ers; mark your calendars for the 3rd Saturday in August 2015. You’ll have an interesting & fun picnic