So many gifted musicians comprise Symphony Nova Scotia that I can’t imagine them ever getting a negative review. Now, team …
Music on the islandBy admin | Jul 26, 2012
Guest blogger Megan Couture reports on the many highlights of the Georges Island Party.
Georges Island concert – part Tall Ships celebration, part experimental litmus test – was completely sold-out last Saturday and highly anticipated. The first public event of its kind (my understanding is private events have been happening on the island for some time), the entertainment for the day was The Lucy Grays, Ben Caplan and the Casual Smokers, and headliners Hey Rosetta!
And if you were wondering, no, I didn’t see any snakes.
The openers were The Lucy Grays. These lucky ducks won a Battle of the Bands put on by Live 105 to secure their spot on the roster. A young, plucky ensemble with Hey Rosetta! influences, I was pleasantly surprised. They appeared humbled by the opportunity but confident in their performance. I especially enjoyed “Zombie,” which was simply introduced as “a song about zombies.” How fun!
Next up was Ben Caplan and the Casual Smokers. Somehow, and don’t ask me how, I’ve never seen Ben Caplan perform live. It was amazing. Ben Caplan is a master storyteller, weaving rich prose with a delightful string ensemble in the Casual Smokers (which, may I add, were a bunch of dapper and well-dressed gentleman despite the July heat). Aside from being an excellent performer, Ben Caplan just seems like a really cool dude. He’s got a beard that only wizards can compete with, and anytime he was chatting with the audience I was in stitches. He also holds the honour of leading the first group sing-along (we think) on Georges Island, along with the first group scream (again, history is murky on such details).
Caplan is amazing for a couple reasons, but my favourite is this: he is willing to lay it all on the line and use every inch of his energy to ensure the show he puts on is powerful and dynamic. A perfect example was when the power cut out during his performance of “I Got me a Woman,” he didn’t so much as pause. He walked out to the front of the stage with his acoustic and screamed the lyrics. Now that’s a performance!
Headliners Hey Rosetta! didn’t disappoint. I don’t think it’s really even possible for them to disappoint. Every time I see them I’m even more impressed. They’ve been on tour consistently and the time on the road is doing them good. Like poetry set to music, Hey Rosetta! is a six-piece ensemble complete with a strings section that has been on a fast-track of evolution since releasing “Into Your Lungs” in 2008. Their music is layered and delightfully complicated with superb writing and harmonious instrumentals.
As a sweet addition, they wrote up the most adorable program, complete with a back page of song lyrics, and a lovely little note encouraging everyone to sing their loudest with their “flawed and perfect voice” for “Red Heart,” “New Goodbye” and “A Thousand Suns.” Probably the sweetest thing a program’s ever said to me. A balance of energy and melody, Hey Rosetta! played everything I wanted to hear: “Bandages”? Yup. “Welcome”? You betcha. “Holy S***(What a relief)”? You better believe it.
For “New Goodbye,” my personal favourite song, which starts with a slow build that swells to an all-encompassing opus, the band chose the perfect moment to toss hundreds of brightly coloured beach balls into the crowd. I kept one as a memento; I wouldn’t want to forget the pure summertime joy an event like this made me feel.
As their encore came to a close, and as Tim, the lead vocalist’s voice began to strain, Hey Rosetta! ended the day on a high note, inviting the crowd to use those sing-along lyrics for the perfect-for-audience-participation of “A Thousand Suns.”
My only question after such an experience is this: Will we ever get such an opportunity again? I certainly hope so.