Team GDW took a recent trip to London, ON for the 45th annual Home County Music and Art Festival, held in Victoria Park in the heart of the city. This prestigious ‘pay by donation’ event consistently presents a wide and diverse ensemble of musicians, drawing in music fans from across the Province and beyond for a weekend of great live music and other festivities. We shall bring you three articles focusing on some of the live sets that we enjoyed. In this first installment, we concentrate on Broomsticks & Hammers, Melanie Brulée, and Twin Flames.
Broomsticks & Hammers: Main Stage, Friday.
We were very recently introduced to the music of Broomsticks & Hammers thanks to lead guitarist, Paul Aitken, who reached out to us and sent a download of their recent “Mirror Box” album. Having played this one on repeat for several days whilst composing that review, the opportunity to see this band live would present itself at the Home County festival, and to be honest, we knew that this would be one of the highlights of our weekend given the quality of their album.
Appearing on stage on this rainy evening, the band shared several tracks from “Mirror Box,” including popular songs such as “Svetlana,” “Gina,” and “Kathleen.” Lead vocalist Bill Needham would also take time to introduce a brand new composition titled “All The Other Boys,” which will appear on an upcoming release sometime next year, added Paul. Returning to their most recent material, the audience were treated to some great renditions of “Second Hand Store” and “Playin’ By Their Rules.” Saving their best until last, Bill would invite local friend and guest vocalist Marty Kolls to sing harmonies with them for the show finale, going all out with “Moe Berg” and the foot-stomping “Lord Tunderin’ Jesus.” Broomsticks & Hammers were incredibly entertaining, and a welcome distraction from the sporadic bursts of precipitation. Hopefully we get an opportunity to see this band again soon.
Melanie Brulée: North Stage, Saturday.
Another one of our favorites here at Great Dark Wonder, we were incredibly excited to see Melanie Brulée added to the line-up at the festival this year. Having spent time discussing her upcoming album on a podcast earlier this year, we naturally jumped at the opportunity to hear more of this highly anticipated new music. Accompanied on stage by Kevin ‘The General’ Neal (lead guitar/pedal steel), the addition of his instrumentation added extra grit to their alt-country twang, and naturally offered hints to what we should expect with the new album (scheduled for release in mid October). With a tale of her memorable road trip from Nashville to Las Vegas being inspiration for her new album, tracks with titles such as “Whisky And Wine,” “Pretty Wasteland” and “We Get Lost” share this common theme.
With a nine-track performance, Melanie was happy to weave both new and previous songs into her set, demonstrating her bilingual prowess with new songs in English, and some older works in French. Naturally, the gathering of music fans appreciated the performance, and were willing to join in when invited to learn some of the lines in French. During her closing number, “Je Crie,” Melanie would teach a line for some audience participation in English, and then repeat the same in French (the joke being that they were identical chants – no language required); before performing the song and allowing everybody to show off their new found bilingual skills. Melanie would also invite a young lady from the audience to join her on stage and add some tambourine during one track; props to Abigail for a stellar job and a memory that her family will not forget.
Twin Flames: Main Stage, Saturday.
What we love about Home County is the incredible diversity of music and artists (within the broad parameters of the folk genre) across the line-up, and once again, we would welcome some great Indigenous music courtesy of Twin Flames. This husband and wife duo of Jaaji, an Inuk/Mohawk from Nunavik, and Chelsey June, a Métis from Ottawa, would perform on the main stage with their full band to a huge crowd that had gathered for their music. And this band did not disappoint, offering eight tracks of their ‘modern Indigenous music’ in both English and their ancestral languages.
Blending their voices to create beautiful harmonies, Twin Flames shared popular tracks such as “Plane Song,” “Friends,” and “Broke Down Skidoo.” The ancestral heritage was also reflected through the personal nature of tracks such as “Kiatsautik” and “Taanisi.” With thought-provoking lyrics across many of their songs, the audience were happy to not only be entertained, but to learn a little about the realities of Indigenous history through this music. Closing their set with their breakout hit “Porchlight,” Jaaji and Chelsey June proved to be a fantastic addition to the festival.
The British guy that crossed the ocean and crash landed in central Pennsylvania (to quote Greg Keelor, “And I wonder what am I doing here?”). As the youngest of four siblings, exposure to music from a very early age nurtured my passion and appreciation for many musical genres. Continuing to discover some amazingly diverse and talented musicians based in Canada, I gravitate to live music experiences and remain devoted to spreading the word about such a vibrant music scene.