Dialled up to 11, in their 11th year, Riverfest Elora was alive with festival vibe August 16, 17, and 18. From the buzz of the three stages, artisans, food truck consumables, and patrons rocking out to the melodies of all the musical genres. It takes a great team of individuals to accommodate and organize a festival, and Riverfest Elora knows this dance. Even with last min changes to musicians, and taking schedule cues from the elements, Riverfest knew to re-jig it all.
Joel Plaskett – Took us nowhere with him at the main stage Friday night. This folk rock Juno award wining lad, had a sweet sound to his voice, and carried his lyrics to new heights along the frets. We got up to some music making mischief and set the tone at the Main stage for the remainder of the festival.
Men Without Hats – Some Synth/pop, a baritone lead voice, and Pop goes the Men Without Hats. With a seemingly dark and serious appearance, Men without Hats showcased a luminous, upbeat, make you want to dance presence; with a little theatre flare. Dancing around the stage, all while striking Madonna Vogue poses, you can’t help but be drawn into the contagious beats.
The Sheepdogs – Some true #riverfriends, The Sheepdogs, are the band to call when in need of a Main Stage Headliner rescue. Swooping in with swagger, The Sheepdogs emanate a retro rock style, and can project a smooth effortless harmony. Still one of my favourite live shows, and they won’t let you leave without feelin’ good.
Ben Rogers – With whispers of country and folk, Ben Rogers slowed the pace of the Main Stage, and eased us into Saturday afternoon. We were left swaying to the waves of the wildfire in his lyrics, and melting with the rising temperatures.
The Darcys – The Darcys are a funky rock duo, who make you want to get up and dance. They also shared that ever since they played at Riverfest in 2017, they haven’t used plastic water bottles onstage to date. With leopard Print threads and a neon sign, The Darcys capture a feel good summer vibe.
Skye Wallace – Imagine Florence and the Machine meets punk rock, and you would get Skye Wallace. Hammering out notes, ramping up guitar rifts, twirling her hair and holding epic notes, Skye was bigger then the Wax on Wheels stage could hold. Skye will be a real music force to be reckoned with.
Bonjay – Some dancehall roots, and some soul like Erykah Badu, Bonjay draws you in with transparency and vulnerability. You move with the rhythm and rime, all while listening to the intent of each lyric.
K-OS – Back to the man he used to be, k-os, a Canadian rapper who sings his chours’. Digging into some soul and funk, k-os will keep you getting down with wide reaching rap.
Alice Merton – Fresh from an European tour, Alice Merton, sang her music roots, learning how to move from place to place; and how to take’ Home’ with you wherever you go. Don’t let her modest stature fool you, she can belt out and hold a note longer than most.
Reykjavikurdaetur – Hip-Hop in Icelandic, raw grit, and choreographed moves, are Reykavikurdaetur . You will get lost in the patterns and synchronicity, as the ladies all take turns chiming in.
Begonia – If you’re looking for a real powerhouse, heart, and every last bit of your soul, Begonia will deliver. This Songstress will captivate you and leave you hanging on every note. The Wax On Wheels stage did not know what hit it, Saturday night.
City And Colour – The Main Stage was lost in sweet romanticism, alternative acoustic melody, and lost in City And Colour’s enchantment. Sweet harmonies, soothing guitar work, lost in sweet lullaby, and the clearest falsetto tone, I have ever heard.
Sarah Smith – From the very first strum, Sarah Smith commanded the Koop stage with her strong rock voice. Reminding me of Melissa Etheridge, Sarah showed her high energy, and how she’s devoted to the song; and the impact it has on the audience.
The Redhill Valley’s – The Redhill Valleys, brought some country roots to The Koop Stage. Gripping harmonies, guitar skills, and an all round rustic energy; they are defiantly a group to follow.
Hubert Lenoir – Quebec City has tuned out some unique talent in recent years, and Hubert Lenoir is no exception. Psychedelic rock, and covering all the corners of the stage, Lenoir is all intensity and stamina.
Art D’Ecco – A persona with a wig and some lipstick, Art D’Ecco created himself at his grandmother’s cottage. Soothing 80’s rock, with a larger then life stage presence, Art D’Ecco is a feast for the ears and eyes.
Terra Lightfoot – Soul, Blues, Rock and ground-breaking stomp, Terra Lightfoot, can rock out just as much as the lads do. Leaning into guitar solos, and swaying into stories of real life, Terra will bring you into that blues ache.
A Tribe Called Red – I first saw them at Hillside Festival last year, and this time I knew what I was in for. Take the club vibe, mixing, and scratch in some powwow, and you have A tribe Called Red. With Hip-hop undertones and traditional dance, you have a very diverse live show, that will sure to keep you dancing.
The Mighty Might Bosstones – Bringing me back to my early childhood, The Mighty Might Bosstones provided the punk and Ska straight out of Boston. Swinging with a punk big brass sound, we danced the night away until the elements called the last note.
Riverfest Elora closed out the festival season with summer vibes, a safe and well-run oiled machine, water conservation, bending with the elements, and organizing and reorganizing stage slots. We were never wondering where to be, or what was happening next. Although the lightning stole the last few minutes of Sunday nights Ska party, we left feeling like we didn’t miss a thing.