Tue, Apr 16, 2013.
As you can imagine, I've seen a lot of shows at the Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival. Indeed, many of the best shows of my life have been there, for several reasons. Sometimes it's the thrilling performances; not much can top the triple bill last year of Charles Bradley, Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, and Maceo Parker. Other times, it's been long-time favourites in my home town, such as Little Feat, Levon Helm, or John Hiatt. Then there's atmosphere and excitement. There are times when everything comes together, the performance and the audience, that just by being there, you are infected by the excitement.
I'd have to say, and I know several people who agree with me, that last year's show by The Avett Brothers was one of the most exciting events I've ever attended. Not only was the concert superb, but the crowd was completely into it. The main tent was packed to capacity, and even though it was early evening, a supper time start, the energy flowing back and forth from the stage to the fans was at maximum. There's one moment in particular I'll always remember, when a cheer went up for the encores that was the most intense and exhilarating I've ever been part of. I had chills from it. Those moments don't happen often.
It's no wonder that Harvest announced today the return of The Avett Brothers for the 2013 festival. The bigger wonder is how they managed to get them again, given the group's popularity, which has only increased over the past year. The group's album The Carpenter has come out just days before the Harvest appearance, and went on to earn them a Grammy nomination, a top five chart appearance and constant touring opportunities, including a just-completed run in Europe. The band is booked solid from the end of April through the summer, so hats off to the Harvest folks to lock them down for the return engagement.
Also announced today for this year's festival are first-time visitors Dangermuffin and Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds. Dangermuffin are a South Carolina roots-rock trio with a mix of ska and guitar power thrown in, festival favourites across North America these days. Sister Sparrow et al are a big group, eight pieces, featuring the Sister herself, singer Arleigh Kincheloe. A funky, horn-blasted blues-soul group with horns, they are another rising band on the live scene, and both acts look like they could be one of those big finds the Harvest is known for. All three groups will make up the Thursday night performance at this year's September Harvest festival. Tickets will be available May 11th.
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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).