By Keith Sharp
Timmins’ Stars and Thunder Festival Day Three: Monday June 26th: When event organizers compiled a talent list of artists who best exemplified the spirit of Canada Day 150, Tom Cochrane and Red Rider had to be at the top of that list.
His entire catalogue of hits reflects the very essence of Canadian culture, from his hockey-inspired “Big League”, to the nationalist pride he exudes in “Victory Day” or even more, the spiritualist message of “Life Is a Highway, Tom Cochrane is Canada. So it was fitting that he and long-time Red Rider pals; guitarist-keyboardist Ken Greer, bassist Jeff Jones and new drummer Davide DiRenzo would top the bill on the third day of the amazing Timmins love-in called Stars and Thunder which pulled over 16,000 locals to Hollinger Park.Squeezed in amongst these songs was “Victory Day” which he performed as a salute to Canada Day 150, while providing a stirring commentary on the strength of this country and how communities like Timmins best reflected the true spirit of Canada, much like his home town of Lynn Lake Manitoba, comments which of course went down well with a packed audience who clearly forged a spiritual bond with the artist.
Cochrane then revisited his `Victory Day’ album for “Good Times” before Greer began playing that distinctive instrumental intro to “Human Race” from the band’s `Neruda’ album. This then signalled what Cochrane called “the meat of his set” launching into a well received monologue on the virtues of ice hockey to Canada’s national identity before performing “Big League”, lauded the power of Canadian women on “The Untouchable One” from his Tom Cochrane & Red Rider album and was then joined by Beverley Mahood on stage for “No Regrets”
Then came the big finale with the anthemic “Life Is a Highway” as JJ Shiplett also appeared on stage to lead in the mass singalong, but Cochrane wasn’t finished. Back on stage for the inevitable encore, Cochrane launched into “Lunatic Fringe” from his Neruda album, revisited his debut single “White Hot” and then, virtually running on fumes” culminated his set with a spirited sing-along to “Boy Inside the Man”
Mahood, who has also doubled as co-host of the festival during the week, launched Monday with an impressive opening set which earned a well deserved standing ovation. The CMT TV host and star of four albums, featured key tracks like “Rewrite History” and “Hope and Gasoline”, delivered a new single; “Until You’re Gone”, displayed her vocal power on a cover of Janis Joplin’s “Piece of My Heart” and even debuted a new protégé, 16-year old Mac Shepherd from Keswick Ont who joined her on stage to sing his own composition, “On The Edge”.
Calgary’s JJ Shiplett gave off a definite Bob Seger vibe in singing tracks off his debut `Something to Believe In” which also featured “Higher Ground”, “Oh No Girl” and “Always For You” in his set list while Lunenburg Nova Scotia’s Joel Plaskett won the crowd over with his eclectic set which included a major hit “Can I Go Nowhere With You”, a new song “My Memories” and a crazy cover of Abba’s SOS”
The night was crowned by Team Finland’s dazzling fireworks display. On the menu today are two local acts; Goliath and Bayla before Timmins’ own Lights promotes her new `Skin And Earth’ release, setting the stage for Montreal’s Simple Plan. Fireworks will be sponsored by Team Ukraine.
Phone-tography By Keith Sharp.