Thu, Aug 30, 2012.
I'm off to a major festival in Ontario this Saturday. This is the second year for the Greenbelt Harvest Picnic, being held at the Christie Lake Conservation Area in Dundas, which is about 15 minutes from Hamilton. It's an initiative spearheaded by Daniel Lanois, who grew up in the area. The event was created to raise awareness for local farmers and the eat-local movement, right in the heart of prime growing country in Southern Ontario. Lanois, it turns out, is simply a big fan of farms, farmers, and produce.
It's a music festival, yes, but it also features displays, workshops, art, and lots and lots of vendors, selling that great local food. There are gardening Q&A's, master chefs providing tips, local beer and wine folks, an aerial troup, in other words a full and glorious day, and that's without the music. Well, it just so happens the line-up is exceptional, as Lanois has some pretty cool friends. Feist headlines, but there are a bunch that could take that role as well, including Lanois himself with a set. Then there's his friend Emmylou Harris, returning from her set last year, as is Gord Downie. Only this time, the Hip front man has a different band with him, none other than the tremendous Sadies, one of the best combos going. Sarah Harmer will be there as well, Jesse Cook too. The list goes on.
Christie Lake itself is a little chunk of preserved paradise, 830 acres with beaches, fishing, hiking trails and plenty of room for folks and families. Another goal of the festival is to promote the importance of conservation lands, and even get a few people out of the city and appreciating nature. I've been invited to MC a little for CBC at the show, as I have a strong tie and plenty of friends with the annual Hamilton Music Awards. I was asked last year, and couldn't make it, and have spent the last 12 months kicking myself over that. The writer for the esteemed roots website No Depression called it simply Best. Concert. Ever., and it featured most of the same headliners, aside from Feist. Everyone, including some veteran rock writers, praised the sound, calling it the best outdoor audio ever. Um, this is checking off a lot of the boxes on my list for a perfect day.
I'm going to be backstage and around the grounds Saturday, so I'll post some photos and updates and interviews and such over the weekend. My plane for Hamilton awaits. It's Hammer Time!
For information on tickets, the full line-up of performers, vendors, and activities, directions and times, visit http://www.harvestpicnic.ca
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Bob Mersereau has been covering music, and the East Coast Music Scene since 1985 for CBC. He's a veteran scene-maker at the ECMA's, knows where the best shows and right parties are happening, and more importantly, has survived to tell the tales. His weekly East Coast music column is heard on Shift on Radio 1 in New Brunswick each Wednesday at 4'45. He's also the author of two national best-selling books, The Top 100 Canadian Albums (2007) and The Top 100 Canadian Singles (2010).