We wrote recently about our wonderful experience at The Sawdust City Music Festival in Gravenhurst, ON.  During this all-weekend event, we had the opportunity to spend time with both Miranda Mulholland and Andrew Penner from Harrow Fair.  Whilst aware that Harrow Fair were scheduled to play at the annual Philadelphia Folk Festival here in PA, Team GDW were already committed to a weekend of live music in Southern Ontario, and would sadly miss them during their visit to our home state.  What we did not know, however (and thanks to Andrew for bringing this to our attention), was that Harrow Fair had been invited to play at the Eagleview Town Center concert series (Exton, PA) on the Tuesday after that weekend.  With no mid-week plans on our calendar, we promptly informed both Miranda and Andrew that we would not only be there, but would spread the word and encourage friends to come out too.

Another artist playing at the Philadelphia Folk Festival was Newfoundlander Ian Foster, and we quickly learned that he had been invited to perform at Eagleview too.  Not being familiar with his music, a strong recommendation from a good friend of Team GDW (who would be joining us for the show) was more than enough to convince us that he’d be a hit with us.  And so, on a balmy summer’s evening, we arrived at the concert venue ready to enjoy spending time in the company of great Canadian musicians in Exton, PA.

As the crowd started to grow in size, the show commenced with a brief opening set from Kendal Conrad, a local artist currently splitting time between here and Nashville, TN.  With a mixture of original material and cover versions, Kendal fulfilled the duties of setting the pace and engaging with the audience.  Opening with her self-penned “Paper Heart,” she would also add the tracks “I Don’t Need You Now” and “Glow In The Dark” (the latter co-written with Paul Jefferson).  Intermixing cover versions of the Stevie Nicks classic “Edge Of Seventeen” and Martina McBride’s “Independence Day”, Kendal’s fusion of rock-country music received positive response from a crowd that was most likely familiar with their local rising star.

Ian Foster would take on the mid-card slot, and armed with his well-travelled acoustic guitar, delivered six original tracks and several tales of the meanings behind the songs.  Whether reminiscing of his travels to the off-the-beaten-path community of Black Tickle, Labrador (population 134) during “Down The Line,” or his ‘deportation’ from France as material for “Postcards,” Foster had a true knack for fully engaging the crowd with his genuine and light-hearted banter.  He would also take time to delight the audience with a tale about one of his musical icons (the late, great Ron Hynes), adding his outstanding tribute to Hynes, “You Left A Song.”  With a request for some audience participation during another track, Foster not only ‘trained’ the crowd to sing along, but successfully split those before him to have different responses at key times, thus providing a very melodic response that worked perfectly with his lead vocals.

Ian Foster was a hit both with the audience, and certainly with us.  We took the opportunity to spend a little time with Ian later that evening and found him to be an absolute pleasure to chat with.  With an upcoming tour in Europe, Ian is excited to return and play for his fans overseas.  We certainly encourage everybody to check out this artist if he happens to be playing in a town near you.

Ian Foster Set List:

  1. Feels Like It Wants To Rain
  2. Don’t Know What’s Good For Us
  3. You Left A Song
  4. Different Songs
  5. Down The Line
  6. Postcards

During Ian Foster’s time on stage, the sun would disappear into the horizon and the late evening would arrive.  And with the dark sky as the backdrop, Harrow Fair would be introduced to those at Eagleview, and of course (just as we knew they would), performed a flawless set of their music to a crowd that probably had no clue of what they were about to encounter.  We heard many comments from those around us, notably that “this duo are awesome,” “what great voices and music,” and my personal favorite, “that red headed girl sure can play that fiddle.”  And during this time, we sat there with smiles on our faces, knowing the emotions being experienced by those seeing Harrow Fair perform for the first time.

With a nine track set list, Harrow Fair brought their A game.  Opening with “Told A Lie To My Heart” and “I Will Be Your Man” from their “Call To Arms” album, the title track would follow to set an energetic pace from the offset.  As expected, their popular cover version of Chris Isaac’s “Wicked Game” was offered (and Andrew once again recounted the distraction of ‘that video’ whilst in the studio to record this track).  Unexpected was the addition of their cover of the Muddy Waters/Led Zeppelin hit, “When The Levee Breaks,” which was certainly well received by the blues-rock lovers out there.  As always, Miranda Mulholland dominated with her mastery of the violin, and added her pitch perfect vocals to the Harrow Fair tunes.  Andrew Penner once again handled both acoustic and electric guitar, kick drum, tambourine, and other percussion duties, as well as captivating the audience with his raw vocals and enigmatic stage persona.

Choosing to close their set with the lively “Bite The Way,” the patrons of Eagleview Town Center serenaded Harrow Fair with a standing ovation.  Not one to miss such an opportunity, the event host would jump on to the stage and invite the duo to perform an encore, and of course, both Andrew and Miranda were willing to entertain with a final number.  The aptly titled “Fare Thee Well Love” would allow the crowd to revel in Harrow Fair’s beautiful vocal harmonies, and be the closure for actively bidding ‘farewell’ to their time here in the Keystone State.

Once again, Harrow Fair earned the appreciation of both new and current fans alike, sending everybody home in good spirits having experienced a wonderful night of live music.  It was particularly gratifying for us to spend time with good friends once again, and chat for a while before bidding them bon voyage and a safe journey back to Toronto.  We know that our paths will cross with that of Harrow Fair at least one more time this year, and we are eager to see them play again with Elliott Brood in Ontario come late October.  For those unable to see them in Ontario, Harrow Fair will be embarking on a tour across parts of the United Kingdom in September – don’t miss out if you happen to be in or around a town on their schedule.

Harrow Fair Set List

  1. Told A Lie To My Heart
  2. I Will Be Your Man
  3. Call To Arms
  4. Emmaline
  5. Been There Ways
  6. Held Tight
  7. Wicked Game (Chris Isaac cover)
  8. When The Levee Breaks (Muddy Waters/Led Zeppelin cover)
  9. Bite The Way

Encore

  1. Fare Thee Well Love (Rankin Family cover)

~ M

Visit Ian Foster’s website.

Buy Ian Foster’s latest album, “Sleeper Years,” on Amazon.

Visit Harrow Fair’s website.

Buy Harrow Fair’s album, “Call to Arms,” on Amazon.