Muskoka Music Festival Workshop: “Rise Up”

Muskoka Workshop - Rise Up

We bring our coverage of the 2022 Muskoka Music Festival to a close with this final summary of a Saturday afternoon workshop, featuring Kitchener, ON band I, The Mountain, and Burks Falls, ON singer-songwriter Caroline Marie Brooks. Team GDW had a blast attending this long weekend in Gravenhurst – catching up with friends new and old – and looking forward to doing this all over again next summer.

I, The Mountain

Having performed the previous evening on this very stage (as a full five-piece band for ticketed pass-holders), this indie-folk band returned as a four-piece ensemble to demonstrate their acoustic talents too.  Dazzling with their up-tempo folk-pop tunes and incredible multiple vocal harmonies, Matt Lamers (vocals/guitar), Allison Dyjach (keyboards/vocals), Rory McLachlin (guitar/vocals), and Matt Rappolt (percussion/vocals) deliver a distinct sound, one that shares many traits with popular bands Fleet Foxes, The Head and the Heart, and The Strumbellas. “This is our second workshop that we’ve played ever, [and] our first one ever doing as a stripped-down acoustic performance,” Matt Rappolt stated. “This first song is … pretty special for me. I wrote it back in Peterborough, I had a little acoustic guitar and was just learning to play at that point. And I was coming out of a seven-year relationship and looking to the future, and needed something to pick me up.”  The band would lead off with “Safe From Harm,” tantalizing again with their harmonies, and demonstrating their ease of splitting the lead vocal duties as the song progressed. 

Matt Lamers would share a tale about “Houseplant,” a song written during the pandemic. “This song is a bit of a jovial one in some ways,” he offered. “I was spending a lot of time hanging around my house plants, and this one night I had this melody come to mind. The song is about keeping someone around that you don’t want to lose.”  An unreleased track, “To Arrive,” would be debuted, which focuses on addiction and the role it plays in our lives, to which Lamers added being about “residing in a dark space and doing your best to rise up out of that.” Props for the workshop title reference!  And with their final number, “The Boat,” dots were connected back to an earlier acknowledgement. “This is a very important song to us because it’s what lit the fire under us to get back into the music making business,” Lamers shared. “This was a co-write with Simon Ward [formerly] of the Strumbellas.” 

Tracks: “Safe From Harm” – “Houseplant” – “To Arrive” – “Owls” – “The Boat”

Caroline Marie Brooks

Known as one third of the popular Canadian pop-folk trio, Good Lovelies, Caroline Marie Brooks took advantage of the pandemic to record and release an absolutely stunning debut album, “Everything at the Same Time” – itself a 2021 Top 20 album for myself, and for GDW’s Douglas McLean, his personal favorite Canadian album of the year.  “I love that my first ever workshop as a solo artist is on stage with a vocal harmony band,” she offered, gesturing to I, The Mountain. “I spend most of my life in a band called the Good Lovelies, [and] they’re really great. Good Lovelies are making a new record right now, so this is a sneak peek of a new song. This is called ‘Young At Heart,’ but don’t be fooled by the peppy chorus.” Caroline would share this unreleased track, and very quickly had her stage friends adding harmonies and the audience singing along too. 

Making a reference to seeing some in the audience bringing dogs along to this workshop, Caroline would share a tale about her own dog, “Jim,” and how people often misinterpret when she informs of talking about Jim all the time and how he is her life partner – itself providing a nice segue into one of the solo album’s standout tracks, “Night Drive,” which Caroline was also happy to reminisce about. “One evening I left the house and I got in the car and drove north on Highway 11,” she commenced. “As I was driving up by myself, I was listening to songs written by my friends, and I was watching the sky. Half of it was clear, beautiful, you could see the milky way, it was incredible, and the other half was this thunderous cloud of lightning, and it was the same sky. How was this the same sky? I began thinking about the enormity of the universe, and how small I am.”

Tracks: “Birdsong” – “Night Drive” – “Young At Heart” – “When You Wish Upon A Star” – “To The Waves” 

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.