For this final article recounting our experience at the Home County Music and Art Festival in London, ON, we focus on the artists whom we had the pleasure of seeing perform on the Main Stage over the course of the weekend.  All references made to the workshops from this festival can be found in the previous reviews.

Oh Susanna (Saturday)

Commencing the Main Stage festivities on Saturday evening, Suzie Ungerleider was once again given the opportunity to perform tracks from her 2017 “A Girl In Teen City” album.  She opened the set, however, with “Pretty Face” from her 2007 “Short Stories” release, before launching into the more recent material.  After a handful of solo pieces, Suzie was happy to introduce two band members who had been performing locally elsewhere, and an additional depth was added to the remainder of the set.  Tales behind the new material offered an insight to her teen years, from stories of ex-boyfriends (with an apology to husband Cam Giroux) to seeking a classic Ford Thunderbird for a music video (thanks Cam for being in the video).  Other stories of teen angst, underage drinking, and trying to get into the coolest clubs in Vancouver were perfect introductions for the tracks to which they related.  Oh Susanna provided a great 45 minute set, and we cannot wait to see her again next month at an event in Toronto.

Oh Susanna Set List:

  1. Pretty Face
  2. Lucky Star
  3. The Darkroom At The School
  4. Long Black Train
  5. Walked All The Way Home
  6. Wolf Boy
  7. My Boyfriend
  8. Tickets On The Weekend
  9. Thunderbird

 

Carly Thomas (Saturday)

After enjoying our brief encounter with Carly during the “Bodies of Water” workshop earlier that Saturday, we had a feeling that her live set with a full band was something worth experiencing.  As a local artist, Carly certainly had strong support from the crowd that was rapidly building around the main stage, and after her non-stop 45 minute segment, we can understand why.  Carly brings plenty of energy to her on-stage persona.  Her band provided the perfect accompaniment to her folk-rock style of music.  But most importantly, she came across as the local girl who was very appreciative for the opportunities her musical creativity has given her, willing to put every ounce of effort (and then some) into the show.

Carly Thomas Set List:

  1. By Your Side
  2. The Montreal Train Song
  3. Drive Me Home
  4. Explode
  5. *New Track – Untitled*
  6. Into The Rain
  7. The Lions Gate
  8. Sink Or Swim
  9. I’ll Find An Ocean

 

Madison Violet (Saturday)

Once again, another duo that we had never previously had the opportunity to see live.  The experience at Home County just kept getting better and better.  Madison Violet (Brenley MacEachern  and Lisa MacIsaac) offered up the kind of roots-Americana sound that has been consistent over their recording career.   Whether opting for simple acoustics, or having a full band in tow, this duo are going to win everybody over with their voices, their harmonies and their creative lyrics.

After knocking out some of their more recent material, cries from their fans for some oldies led to an abandonment of any pre-determined set list, and the crowd were rewarded with popular tracks such as “Small Of My Heart” and “Lauralee.”  And like those before them, the duo would bring tales to support their choices in tracks. The story of their attempt to buy a house boat in the Toronto islands proved very entertaining.  A cover of the Beyonce hit “Daddy Lessons” was given a unique stamp when the duo added the chorus from the Hall & Oates track “Maneater” halfway through the song.  Closing their set with hints of a possible future concert date being announced in London, Madison Violet wrapped up their 45 minute slot to a deserved ovation.

Madison Violet Set List:

  1. *New Track – Untitled*
  2. Crying
  3. Don’t Let Your Heart Be Troubled
  4. We Are Famous
  5. Lauralee
  6. Small Of My Heart
  7. Daddy Lessons (Beyonce cover)
  8. These Ships

 

Dala (Sunday)

Another popular act that we had not previously heard of, but after being recommended to us by Jane Carmichael from The Marrieds, we knew that this duo deserved our attention.  After learning that this was the only festival that Dala were participating in this year, we eagerly awaited their 45 minutes on the main stage.  Hailing from Scarborough, ON, the two-piece act of Sheila Carabine and Amanda Walther proved to be incredibly entertaining, presenting us with not only great voices and musicianship, but a genuine chemistry and instant rapport with the crowd.

With their evident friendship and laid-back stage persona, Sheila and Amanda demonstrated a very natural ability to simply bounce off each other, with jokes, laughs and so forth.  Yet this did not detract from their music, with each duet enticing the listener to enter their world and share their musical adventures.  At one point, Sheila had the crowd completely engaged during a tale about how they reacted to a ‘bad email’ from a fan named Gary, who simply became fodder for a song they titled “You Don’t Sound Like Carole King.”  Amanda would joke during “Lennon and McCartney” at how her contribution on the keyboards sounded like a cat walking on the keys.  A brief promotion of a solo children’s album released by Amanda (under the name WW Club) paved the way for the track “Milk,” which also tickled the funny bone.  Whether serious, sentimental, or laughing at the world around them, Dala maintained a strong focus on delivering their music, and became yet another Canadian artist added to our always increasing list of bands to see again soon.

Dala Set List:

  1. *Unknown Title*
  2. Dream A Little Dream Of Me (Cover)
  3. Lennon And McCartney
  4. Clouds (Joni Mitchell cover)
  5. Milk (WW Club)
  6. Maybe It’s The Moon
  7. Best Day
  8. You Don’t Sound Like Carole King
  9. Horses
  10. Levi Blues

 

Trent Severn (Sunday)

So we had already seen Trent Severn play a workshop, and two thirds of them play a second workshop the next day.  We still wanted more.  Trent Severn were one of the acts that confirmed our intentions to visit this festival, and we were not going to miss any opportunity to see them perform on the main stage at Victoria Park.  After rocking the main stage with their roots-folk inspired sound, we still crave more.  This trio have an uncanny ability to capture your full attention, and then absorb you fully with the beautiful music that seemingly comes natural to them.

Trent Severn laid out the hits for the crowd in attendance, with the up-tempo “Stealin’ Syrup” and “Bluenose On A Dime,” to the more relaxed and emotionally charged “O Snow” and “Snowy Soul.”  The inclusion of their recent Canada150 contribution “Eh Canada” also went over well, once again demonstrating their abilities to completely mix it up and pull the listener in any emotional direction at a given time.  We waited far too long to finally see Trent Severn – if you are curious and have not seen them live, do not delay any further and catch them at a show near you as soon as you can.

Trent Severn Set List:

  1. *Unknown Title*
  2. Eh Canada
  3. Stealin’ Syrup
  4. O Snow
  5. Snowy Soul
  6. Newfoundman
  7. Blue Nose On A Dime
  8. Nil Visibility
  9. Freedom

 

The Once (Sunday)

The final act of the evening, on the final day of the festival.  We were both happy to finally see The Once with a main stage performance, but equally saddened that this amazing event was almost coming to an end.  This trio from Newfoundland had a tough act to follow, given the popularity of Trent Severn in this part of the province. However, Geraldine, Phil and Andrew were more than ready to put it all out there on stage and have the packed crowd fully immersed in their brand of east coast folk music.  Here was another band that had natural chemistry on stage, conversing together and with the crowd throughout their set.  We were encouraged to celebrate Andrew’s wife’s birthday (even though she was in NL). We heard tales of both Phil’s relationship with his father, and poor Geraldine’s unrewarded affections for ‘that bartender on George Street.’

Yet while the humor prevailed between songs, the dedication and energy to flawlessly perform each track was evident.  The Once are fully deserving of their reputation for their live performances, and abilities to remain true to a traditional folk sound whilst adding their own unique interpretation to the genre.  Wrapping up their set with the amazing track “The Nameless Murderess,” The Once not only ended their show, but closed the entire festival with a bang.  With hints of a new album in the pipeline, we cannot wait to see what will follow from this very talented trio.

The Once Set List:

  1. Sail Away To The Sea
  2. You Lead, I Will Follow
  3. The Town Where You Lived
  4. Sonny’s Dream (Ron Hynes Cover)
  5. We Are All Running
  6. Last Lemonade
  7. A Round Again
  8. The Nameless Murderess

 

The Home County Music and Art Festival left Team GDW with such a strong, emotional impression that we were saddened to have to leave the city of London the following day.  If it wasn’t for just one simple tweet about the event by an artist named in this article, we may have missed out altogether.  Having such a wonderful experience over these two days at Victoria Park, we know that this will not be the last time we attend this event.  Given that 2018 celebrates the 45th anniversary of the festival, we have a strong feeling that the line-up is likely to be amazing (although it will be incredibly difficult to top this line-up).  We would like to personally thank the artistic director, Darin Addison, for not only recruiting the amazing musicians, but for also taking time to chat with us and provide a little history about the festival.  We look forward to making a pilgrimage back to London for #45.

~ M

Visit the Home County Music and Art Festival website.

Artist Websites:

Oh Susanna
Carly Thomas
Madison Violet
Dala
Trent Severn
The Once