The Timmins Ontario festival landscape has changed greatly in two years.
Creating a dynamic where fans will be comfortable started at the Kayak Festival where fans are allowed in go in free of charge.
Then Timmins concert-goers laid out their money for the surprise hit of the summer of 2016 with Rock on the River.
But for the past eight days Stars and Thunder took it over the top putting the City of Timmins on the concert map in a big way. A combination of classic rock bands and jaw-dropping fireworks displays (when appropriate weather conditions allowed them to be released) made for a very special week for this city.
I must say at the outset I saw every set from every artist over eight days.I may have missed a song from a set or got a title wrong and may not have gotten to every artist because we didn’t have space in the local newspaper.But safe to say this was Timmins’ at it’s natural best. Pride in the city pulling this off is at the forefront of all the people I talked with over the past eight days.
Saturday night delivering a killer show, Keith Urban proved that musical chops and integrity are at his core.You could put Urban and his band in a 400 seat hall and they would blow your mind.
Blasting off with “Gone Tomorrow (Here Today)” Urban and his band found a natural groove that flowed with dynamics into other Ripcord album highlights such as “Sun Don’t Let Me Down” and “John Cougar John Deere John 3:16”
With his trusty six string Ganjo providing the fusion of country rock and pop on “Somewhere in My Car””, and “Little Bit of Everything” Urban had the capacity crowd of 25,000 avid fans reeled in hook, line and sinker.
Let me say right now this show is on my top ten lists of concerts I have saw in my entire life.
It was that special. In fact many fans around me said “Is this really happening in Timmins Ontario?
Urban delivered an intimate version of “Cop Car”, brandished the power of The Fighter with Carrie Underwood on the video screen, staged a duet with Bowmanville Ontario’s Meghan Patrick who sang Miranda Lambert’s part on “We Were Us” and closed his show with the massive hit and singalong “Wasted Time” before he encored with “Raise Em Up”.
Urban is of course noted for his guitar solos and when he did rip them out it was like his guitar became a part of him.
Not to be outdone Urban also pulled a Domino Pizza delivery young man onstage, with his mom and walked through the audience thrilling fans who actually got to touch him. A stunning show.
A country music soul singer, a showman or whatever you wish to say, Johnny Reid is the true all around performer who knows how to work an audience.
I wished his vocals were a little higher in the mix on Saturday’s Timmins show.
Having said that Reid made his way down the stairs early in the show running from stage left to stage right much to the delight of his huge fan base that came to the Timmins show.
The Timmins set list added up to about 15 songs featuring (“When The Sun Goes Down”), “A Woman Like You” featured Miku Graham and Saidah Babu Talibah, his two back-up singers. and a superb version of“Today I’m Going To Try And Change The World” in addition to probably the best version of Wilson Pickett’s Don’t Let the Green Grass Fool You” I have heard next to the original.
In the end it was clear Reid is a headline act that would normally play over two hours.
It seemed to me Meghan Patrick took a long time to set up her soundcheck for her set
At least 25 minutes which may have given people time to pause but once she did get going she is the real player. “Grace and Grit”, “Son of a Preacher Man” and “Bow Chicka Wow Wow created a solid show and then went on to duet with Urban (which probably crossed one item of her bucket list).
The Sons of Maxwell have a ton of albums out and despite a short set time made the most out of it.To say these guys are loved by a Timmins audience is a total understatement
Their harmonies and Dave Carroll’s songwriting propel the band into a special place
A total treat hearing them on this big stage.
Friday’s set had a distinctive Country theme. Boots on and ready to rock the twang.
Brighton Ontario’s Cold Creek County made new fans in Timmins.“Til The Wheels Come Off, “Our Town, “Beer Weather”, “Everything is Right on the Money” and “Homemade” were concert highlights.
Ches Anthony the band’s new vocalist. hands down is one heck of a hard worker and major talent.Can’t say enough about how this band can sing. Throwing Bruno Mars, and Ed Sheeran into the set sounds crazy but it worked big time.
Vancouver’s The Washboard Union is the real deal high quality country/ bluegrass sound in a Zac Brown vibe “Shine” is one of the best songs I have heard this year and live it was killer. “Maybe it’s the Moonshine”, “Shot of Glory”, and a cover of “Seven Bridges Road “with Aaron Grain, Chris Duncombe and David Roberts out front is really something
This band looks like it may break big.
Blackie Jackett Jr.featuring the hometown return of James Reid worked it real well
James Black, Rick Jackett, along with Jimmy and Sandra Dee rocked with the consistent fuel of a Flying Burrito Brothers vibe.Joined by Timmins own Kevin McMahon and Jack Larabee on the rhythm section really impressed the local crowd.
Strong set came via Sudbury with Larry Berrio. Punk/alternative rockers All The Wasted Years got a 15 minute call to be on stage and played the country gig , while Mike Trudel did a four song acoustic set.
Host , Country star, Beverley Mahood was the absolute glue that held the festival on course, hosting and performing own set Tuesday. An absolute talent.
Can’t say enough about how well this show was run on stage by Joshua Clark and his team for the 8 days. Bravo and kudos to Keith Sharp, Ted Van Boort and Ron Sakamoto for their artist support and the amazing support of Timmins’ mayor Steven Black who made the entire event possible.
A big win for Timmins
JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist, singer-songwriter with The Shaftmen and Post Media contributor