By Keith Sharp
Franco-Ontario band, Le Groupe Swing (LGS) brought the opening day of Timmins Stars And Thunder music and fireworks festival to life with an energetic set that had the 14,000 plus fans on their feet dancing and clapping in unison.
Led by Ottawa’s Michel Bènac and Montreal’s Jean Phillipe Goulet, LGS’s musical style can only be described as Cajun, Acadian folk rock hip hop, and if that sounds like a mixed-bag, that’s exactly what LGS presents.
And it is all action with D.J M4rs, resplendent in his red Toronto Blue Jays shirt, indulged in several free standing dance spins, to compliment Goulet’s frenetic fiddle playing and Nathan Da Silva’s rock guitar riffs while front man Bènac drove the band lyrically with a set list of irresistibly infectious songs like “C Okay”, “La Folie”,” Qtel” “ Bouge” and “Cash” which earned them a well earned encore which again resulted in another storming track, “CB Buddy”, the crowd just loved them
The Saint Jean Baptise Day theme was obviously French-flavoured and headliner Quebec superstar, Michel Pagliaro didn’t disappoint with a headline set that included key French songs like” Come D’Habitude”, “Dangereux”, “Fou de Toi”, “Dans La Peau” and “Romantique” to go along with his established English hits like “Louise”, “Lovin You Ain’t Easy”, “Rainshowers”, “What The Hell I Got” and “Some Sing Some Dance”
Local favourite, Cindy Doire, one half of Scarlett Jane, debuted her French language `Panorama’ album which she performed in it’s entirety, initially bemusing but eventually captivating an audience more accustomed to seeing her perform with an acoustic guitar instead of the keyboard samplings that propelled her solo release.
Event organizers even allowed for local talent with Yvan & The Bandidos and Estelle Deschamps And The Roadryders to perform for the early arrivers although Deschamps committed a major faux pas by performing Pagliaro’s “What The Hell I Got”, a move that did not impress Mr Pagliaro who was seen stomping into his trailer in disgust.
Backstage there was a great comradery with the affable Pagliaro happily agreeing to interviews and chatting with the locals. When asked about his longevity, Pagliaro’s response was, “Well I can’t sing when I’m dead so I’ll keep on going until I do.”
Ms Doire, reacquainted herself with her former school chum, event media organizer Heather Duhn and chatted about her recent exploits in India while LGS’s Marius Pleniceanu, aka DJ M4rs, a Toronto resident, bemoaned the 9th inning collapse of his beloved Blue Jays against Kansas.
Timmins’ rock n roll Mayor Steven Black was obviously thrilled with the day’s eventual turnout and seemed relieved that apart for the occasional ominous black cloud, the day remained sunny and rain free while Event Organizer Ron Sakamoto was also relieved by the day’s eventually strong turnout and regaled local media with his anecdotes about touring with the likes of Kiss, Johnny Cash, Shania Twain and his current charges, Keith Urban and Johnny Reid. Stories that are currently being compiled into an autobiography…or two!
And then came the fireworks, launched this night be Team France as part of a week-long International competition which appeared to have every single resident of Timmins looking skywards.
A great initial day which leads to today’s itinerary which features headliner David Wilcox, Sass Jordan, Cindy Dore reuniting with Andrea Ramolo as Scarlett Jane plus local performers Celeste Levis and The Relic Kings with firework display courtesy of Team Italy.