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7 Things We Learned at the CBC Music Festival

When you try anything for the first time, there's something to be learned. And after taking in the inaugural CBC Music Festival Saturday at Toronto's Echo Beach, we picked up on a few tips. Nothing the organizers need trouble themselves with. (Gold star, Team CBC! Keep up the good work.) Still, here are a few of the musings we had while enjoying the show from the sand.

-- JJ Thompson

Sam Roberts is a CBC Music Fanboy
Oh how Canadians love Sam Roberts, let us count the ways: Brother Down, We Were Born in a Flame, Chemical City, Love at the End of the World, Collider. (Also, dude has had the finest beard in Canadian music for something like 13 years running.)

And Sam Roberts loves you, too, Canada. He especially loves one new Canadian institution, though: CBC Music.

While closing CBC Music Fest Saturday night, a set that included the debut of a jittery new song from his upcoming album, Roberts paid tribute to the site. His reasons went beyond the obvious. Sure, they hired him to play their inaugural festival. But Roberts is also an admirer of CBC Music, and from the stage he praised how the digital channel has created an unrivalled source for accessing, and discovering, music. "Now, finally, we have this unified front," Roberts told the crowd. "And it's called CBC Music."

-- JJ Thompson

CBC Music Should've Booked Trooper
Provided they're not already scheduled to play a county fair and/or legion dance, try getting Trooper for next year, CBC Music. (You know, provided you're interested in launching a second installment.)

The Debaters did a live taping Saturday afternoon from Echo Beach. The topic? Should classic rock still be played on the radio. The outcome? Your dad's music is here for a good time, and a long time. We suspect the cadre of "over 60 groupies" attending CBC Music Festival may have swung the vote.

-- JJ Thompson

The Good Ol' Hockey Game is Still the Best Game You Can Name

"I'm sad about Rita, I'm sad about George Jones," I'm sad about Jeff Hanneman of Slayer," said Corb Lund Saturday, reflecting on the deaths of three of his musical heroes. But Lund and his Hurtin' Albertans chose Saturday to pay a special tribute to one particular man of song: Stompin' Tom Connors. As the country singer explained from the stage, CBC Music Festival marked the band's first show in Connors's adopted home province since his death. So before leaving the stage, they ran through a few bars of "The Hockey Song" as a farewell.

-- JJ Thompson

Maybe They Should've Held the Fest in Iceland, Instead

After a day of lazing on the beach, it was standing-room only by the time Of Monsters and Men reached the stage, and the sold-out crowd was in the mood to holler along to a full hour of the group's Mumford-y shanties - beers and voices raised. (Since last year the Icelandic indie-folk group has exploded out of obscurity, a story CBC Music re-told last week.)

But standing nose to armpit with a few hundred CBC Music Festival-goers is more than a dedicated act of fandom. It's also a decent strategy for conserving body heat.

With the sun going down, and the winds off Lake Ontario picking up, an already brisk spring day was starting to feel like a brisk winter one.

Even the Icelanders felt the chill. Joked Of Monsters and Men singer Raggi þórhallsson from the stage, Toronto clearly doesn't experience summer. It's warmer in Iceland right now!

(OK, maybe not. A quick Google search revealed the temperature in Reykjavik Saturday night was 6 degrees.)

Next Time, Pack a Second Blanket
Further to that last blurb: you'll want one to sit on and one to wear. (For more on cold-weather CBC Music Fest fashion, check out our Street Style gallery.)

-- JJ Thompson

Never Ever Bean Kathleen Edwards With a Beach Ball (Or Anything Else, For That Matter)
Maybe you picked up a beach ball from the friendly staff at the CBC Music tent. Maybe you batted one around Echo Beach during Kathleen Edwards's set. But unless you're interested in trying dentures, you probably didn't punt a beach ball onstage.

"You win a prize if you hit me with one of those red balls," Edwards told the crowd. "It's called a kick in the mouth."

Just kidding, kids - though Edwards went on to offer a series of other backstage prizes that may or may not have been censored during the show's CBC Radio broadcast.

Edwards's onstage banter is always as salty as her music is sweet. (Listeners at home: you may have also missed out on a few gestures that are NSF public broadcasting.)

Still, for all the jokes, Edwards's set also featured a few moments of heartfelt gravity. While introducing "Moving to America," for instance, Edwards reflected on her journey of the last few years, a time that included the making of her Polaris Prize nominated record Voyager, and the beginning - and end - of a relationship with Bon Iver musician Justin Vernon. As she told the crowd, she's extremely grateful that her journey eventually brought her home, to live and work in Canada.

-- JJ Thompson

Elisapie is Our New Favourite Thing Ever
Attend a festival and you will discover new music: it's one of those universal truths of summer concerts, like paying $8 for a bottle of tap water or not questioning a 40-minute port-a-pottie line. Singer-songwriter Elisapie was our personal "find" this festival, though the Montreal-by-way-of-Salluit artist has been recording for years. (She won her first Juno Award, as a member of the band Taima, in 2005.) Charismatic, though delicately voiced, her disco-inspired set was an antidote to the rock and folk-leaning festival line-up. Discover Elisapie for yourself at

And visit for more from the festival, including concert photos and footage from the show.

CBC Music Festival Street Style



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