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Old 09-01-2013, 02:14 PM   #6
Join Date: May 2000
Posts: 15,595
Default Re: GREENBELT HARVEST FESTIVAL in Dundas,On-Lightfoot steps in for Neil Young-Sept.1-
Photos at link.Cathie Coward-Hamilton Spectator.
Greenbelt Harvest Picnic bigger than the elephant in the room

Greenbelt Harvest Picnic
It took Gordon Lightfoot, the dean of Canadian songwriters and as close to a living legend as it gets, to knock the elephant off the stage of the third annual Greenbelt Harvest Picnic.

The elephant as in 'elephant in the room' was that other living legend, Neil Young, or rather the lack of Neil Young and his band Crazy Horse. Young had cancelled on the Picnic less than two weeks before the daylong festival was scheduled to get underway Saturday at the picturesque Christie Conservation Area in rural Dundas. The Crazy Horse guitarist had injured his hand.

Many hard core Young fans, already frustrated by the fact their musical hero had opted out of what appeared to be a dream line up, became enraged when Picnic organizers offered only a $40 refund on the $139.50 ticket cost and replaced Young with the iconic Lightfoot and the lesser-known Martha Wainwright.

False rumours, fueled by the presence of Young's wife Pegi in the Picnic lineup, persisted throughout the park, even into Saturday evening, that Neil would make a surprise visit. It didn't happen, never was in the cards.

Instead, on Saturday, the 10,000 Picnic goers got Lightfoot. Normally a bucket-list item for any lover of Canadian music, Lightfoot was stepping into potentially hostile terrain. Let's face it, at 74, his voice doesn't even come close to what it was in its heyday. And Lightfoot's understated delivery is light years away from the fiery garage guitar jams currently being served up by Crazy Horse.

So there was some apprehension with the great man took the stage, dressed to the part, red tunic and long-grey hair, combed straight back. Would the Young fans boo? Heckle, even?

No. They greeted Lightfoot with the respect he deserves. He started off on shaky ground, his voice brittle and worn on the openers Watchman's Gone and Waiting For You. He caught stride, however, with a smooth rendition of his biggest hit, Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald and carried the new-found strength into Painter Passing Through, In My Fashion and If You Could Read My Mind.

By then, Lightfoot felt ready to face down the elephant. He did it with a dry wit and a lot of panache.

"I would like to thank Mr. Lanois and Mr. Young for inviting us on this show," he humbly told the crowd from the stage. "Thank you very much for having us."

By "Mr. Lanois," he meant Daniel Lanois, the Ancaster-raised uber-producer/musician who is one of the hosts of the Harvest Picnic. He had a lot to do with inviting Lightfoot to the show. All "Mr. Young" did was create the opening.

The elephant didn't turn out so big after all. Lightfoot finished his set with a soulful version of Early Morning Rain and the crowd called the veteran troubadour back for an encore, You're Beautiful.

It didn't satisfy all those angry Neil Young fans. Early in the day, one woman heckled Lanois, demanding he "come clean" and provide a full refund. She was quickly shouted down by those in the crowd around her.

Through the course of the day, many came to realize that the Harvest Picnic is bigger than one act, even one as iconic as Neil Young and Crazy Horse.

"Sure I was angry when Neil Young cancelled, especially when Ticketmaster sent me my $40 refund," said long-time Crazy Horse fan John German, of Burlington. "But now that I'm here, it seems like most people came for the Greenbelt Harvest Picnic. And it's great. There's a lot of good music happening."

There was good music, indeed, more than 12 hours of it and much of it from Hamilton. Harlan Pepper, four young folk-rockers from Westdale, opened the show, impressing the early arrivals with a rootsy edge to their still-developing sound. Helping to close the show was Hamilton veteran bluesman Harrison Kennedy who joined Lanois and guitarist Brian Griffith for a lively rendition of Give Me Just A Little More Time, a Motown-flavoured hit he had with The Chairmen Of The Board back in 1970.

The late-afternoon set by Hamilton-based duo, Whitehorse, raised the bar by several notches with the husband-and-wife team of Melissa McClelland and Luke Doucet managing to produce enough sound to power a locomotive. Whitehorse was followed by a steamy session from Brooklyn-based songstress Trixie Whitley. Hamilton pop rockers, the Arkells, then provided a high-energy dinner-hour show that proved they can go toe-to-toe with any band in the country (well, maybe not Rush or the Hip).

We also got Lanois, an extraordinary guitarist who thrashed it out Crazy Horse-style for some two hours at the end of the evening as well as dueting with Whitley, Bulat and country queen Emmylou Harris. The a cappella version of Calling My Children Home that Harris and Lanois pulled off with the help of Jimmy Waters and Malcolm Burn was superb.

Even Premier Kathleen Wynne dropped by to thank the crowd for honouring the farmers and the wildlife of The Greenbelt.

"Thank you, everyone, for being here, a terrific turnout and a wonderful event," the premier said before flubbing the introductions to two afternoon acts ("Borgia Boulet" instead of Basia Bulat, and "Dan & Marra" instead of Dawn & Marra).

Sixteen acts on two stages over more than 12 hours, as well as plenty of quality food and drink, all served up in a rural setting with swimming, fishing and canoeing.

Sure, Young's cancellation and the subsequent furor over the lack of full refunds, bloodied the reputation of the Greenbelt Harvest Picnic after two straight years of near perfection.

At the same time, it proved that the festival itself might be bigger than any elephant in the room.
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