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Sarah Harmer "How Deep in the Valley" 3:33

At Tuesday afternoon’s Greenbelt Harvest Picnic press conference on the shores of Christie Lake, Daniel Lanois reminded a crowd why there’s a certain pedigree attached to his name.

The Grammy Award-winning musician and producer flew from Alberta on the red eye to make sure he could be there for the annual conference and performance, and brought part of his electronic rig with him for the show.

One problem. His rig – a Frankenstein-esque mishmash of rack gear, amps and a mixing console – died right before he was supposed to go on.

This might have deterred other performers. But Lanois simply apologized for being a “little crispy” from the flight, sat down on his amp and busted out an impromptu lap steel tune that would make many guitar aficionados drool. You can watch it in the player above.

Lanois says this year – the festival’s fourth anniversary – has the feel of something that’s really starting to find its groove. “The event feel like it’s found its footing,” he said. “Everyone is comfortable.”

“After doing things for a little while it starts to feel like home. So it’s good to be home.”

LaMontagne returns

Folk troubadour Ray LaMontagne will be back to headline this year’s show on Aug. 23, and joined by mainstay Lanois, as well as Bruce Cockburn, Sarah Harmer, The Sadies, Los Lobos, Gord Downie, composer Boris Brott and a slew of others. Organizer Jean Paul Gauthier announced other acts for the second stage of the show Tuesday, including Lori Yates, Katie Bulley and Aboriginal vocal and drum group Ohinia: kara.

Award-winning blues artist Rita Chiarelli has also been added to the main stage of the show.

Sarah Harmer told CBC Hamilton after her performance (which you can also watch above) that the Harvest Picnic is like a “working, co-operative alternative” to big, corporate summer festivals. “It feels like everything is tied together.”

But amidst a lot of positivity about the show and the Greenbelt itself, Harmer cautioned that concertgoers should remember elements that she says threaten local greenspace, like Enbridge’s Line 9 pipeline reversal. “We’re in the sacrifice zone right here,” she said. “It should be one of the biggest concerns for people in this area.”

In March, the NEB approved a request from Enbridge to reverse the flow and increase the capacity of the controversial Line 9 pipeline that has been running between southern Ontario and Montreal for years. Opponents argue the Line 9 plan puts communities at risk, threatens water supplies and could endanger vulnerable species in ecologically sensitive areas.

Susan Murray, the vice-president of operations for the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation, says that her organization will be asking the crowd to make a pledge to show their support for protecting the Greenbelt. “This isn’t an ask for money – it’s an ask to voice the values we all have,” she said.

Celebrating local food

Organizers also announced this year’s workshop series for the picnic on Tuesday. The Mount Hamilton Horticultural Society will present an afternoon of sessions in the Beach Pavilion while local farmers will host seminars in the Farmers Market Tent.

“We’re very appreciative of the chance to get out of the fields and celebrate local food,” said Chris Krucker of ManoRun Farms.

The Greenbelt Harvest Picnic is happening on Saturday, Aug. 23, from noon to 11 p.m. at the Christie Lake Conservation Area in Dundas.

Tickets are available online at www.ticketmaster.ca or by calling 1-855-985-5000. Children 10 and under get in for free while discounted tickets are available for youth ages 11-15. Tickets can also be purchased at Picks and Sticks at 140 Locke St. S in and Dr. Disc at 20 Wilson St.