By Carey Langsner, Rock At Night Ontario Correspondent
Hagersville Rocks festival–Ontario, Canada–July 22, 2017
With a name like Hagersville Rocks, you would expect to hear the sounds of rock music, but when you hold it in Hagersville, “Rock” could easily be referring to the quarries in and around town. This was the fourth year for this festival and the third straight year it was held at Grant Kett Memorial Park in Hagersville. The venue has amphitheater-like characteristics, thanks to quarrying activity at the site many years ago. This not only made for great listening pleasure as the sound was captured by the grass hills but also a viewing pleasure as sitting up on the hill you had an unobstructed view of the stage.
As a “Rock” festival, Hagersville Rocks featured many styles of rock. Starting off the festival with folk rock from The Redhill Valleys, followed by the rocking country of Ultimate Urban, then rock for the ages with Freedom Train and then Celtic Rock by the Mudmen. Following all that, Hagersville Rock was ready for some country music by Megan Patrick and closing out the festival was the sounds of country/bluegrass with Washboard Union.
With an overcast day and the weatherman promising rain for most of the afternoon, the festival started on time with no rain until late in the evening as the last act took to the stage.
The Redhill Valleys opened the festival. They are a 3-piece folk/rock group from Hamilton, Ontario consisting of guitarist Danielle Beaudin, bassist Chelsea McWilliams and drummer/guitarist Tim Allard.
Ultimate Urban covers Keith Urban’s entire award winning career to date. Number one hits such as “Somebody Like You”, “Long Hot Summer” and “You Look Good In My Shirt” make for an unforgettable tribute to one of the world’s greatest and most dynamic country artists.
Freedom Train put the rock into Hagersville Rocks with their spin on their huge variety of classic rock and R&B. This trio features the four-octave vocal range of vocalist / bassist Carl Jennings, the inventive two-piece kit drumming of Tim Jennings and the creative guitar stylings of “Big” Ed Mitchell. The three members create full and authentic sounds from a Led Zeppelin classic to a Louis Armstrong standard. Their variety of great songs and vastly different musical styles within their show has been the secret to Freedom Train’s success for the past 28 years!
High energy and a ton of fun, The Mudmen are a Celtic rock band featuring the Campbell brothers, Robby and Sandy, on bagpipes. The entire band inspires a party as soon as they hit the stage. With great music and plenty of antics by the Campbell brothers, you can’t help but have a great time while the band is on stage. Founded by The Campbell Brothers in 1998, they are joined by Jeremy Burton on drums, Mike Meacher as lead singer and on guitar, and Dan Westenenk on bass guitar. The Mudmen have even met and performed for the Queen.
Starting the country portion of the festival was Bowmanville Ontario’s own, Meghan Patrick. For a rock festival, it turns out that there was a large country fan base in the audience – they went crazy as Megan took to the stage. Megan, who is currently nominated for five CCMA awards, did not disappoint as she performed a number of songs from her just released CD Grace & Grit. Megan performed some of her soon to be released new music for the audience to great cheers. She not only writes her own songs, she plays guitar and harmonica. The loudest sing-along of the set was when Megan performed “Jolene” by Dolly Parton.
Closing out the night was the always energetic, never standing still, five-time Country Music Award winners for 2016, The Washboard Union. They have defied classification and have become one of the most exciting and talked about new bands on the Country music scene. This year, the band took home both Rising Star and Roots Artist of the Year awards at the Canadian Country Music Awards and won three BC Country Music Awards for Group, Songwriter and Roots Artist of the Year. They had two top 10 singles in the past year with “Maybe It’s the Moonshine” & “Shot of Glory”.
I can`t wait for next years edition of Hagersville Rocks. I would like to personally thank the Hagersville Rock`s organizers for looking after the media at this event by supplying us not only with a tent, table and chairs but, also having a supply of water available to us.
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