Saturday, 9 August 2008

Riverside Jam 2008, Oh What a Weekend!

This column was published in The Mississippi Weekender on Friday, August 8, 2008.

Ironically, Peter had a story publish on the front page, and my stories and pictures from Riverside Jam are all through the paper. It's pretty cool. Copies are being sent to California VIPS, or I can send on upon request.

The Canadian Edition (front page story) garnered my first autograph request. Too funny, and oh-so-surreal.

Gotta love fame in a small town.

Enjoy! - Be sure to scroll down for more stories, posts and pictures. Leave me a comment, dammit! I know you're reading! What do you think? What do you want me to write about?


I could hardly believe my luck, but the evidence was laying around my neck.

Riverside Jam, 2008 All Access.

Sweet, fancy Moses, what fun I was going to have with my camera while I was backstage. Look out, country music stars, the paparazzi in Carleton Place is on the loose!

I’ve loved country music since I was a teenager (which, of course, wasn’t that long ago), so I was really looking forward to the 5th annual music festival presented by the Diamond Foundation. The scheduled talent was phenomenal, and I couldn’t wait to scream and stomp my feet with the rest of the crowds as we swayed to the notes flowing from instruments played so many amazing musicians, including Gord Bamford, Tommy Cash, Lorrie Morgan and Mark Chesnutt.

Though the rain threatened at all times, garbage bag-wearing-umbrella-toting music lovers had already set their lawn chairs up in prime spots in front of the stage. Anticipation buzzed through the air.

Y101 introduced Ambush, and the Jam officially started.

There’s something about Ambush. They are so much fun to watch, to dance to. Maybe that’s why they’ve garnered a Canadian Country Music Association (CCMA) nod with an award nomination for Group or Duo of the year. And to most of us, they seem like friends.

Jason Blaine came after Ambush, a Pembroke man who has the recognition of his music peers as a talent on the rise. The only disappointment felt by most was that his handlers didn’t allow photos with the fans as they waited in line to meet him. However, Jason is cool. If you ever do get a chance to meet him, be sure to ask him how he came up with the song “My First Car”. It will remind you of your clutch-popping days for sure.

When I asked Blaine what his favourite part of playing a Riverside Jam type of venue was, he replied “Folks in small towns don’t just listen to country music, they live it. Those are my kind of people.” That’s why you’re our kind of people too, Mr. Blaine.

The skies opened up and the rain began falling hard and fast as Brad Johner took the stage. His pop-country sound revved the crowd until many were standing and dancing along with the music, rain be darned. Soon everyone was soaked.

Me? Of course I wasn’t prepared for any of it. My umbrella was too small, my camera bag NOT rain-proof. I forgot to charge the battery in the camera and I had no pen to take notes. Intrepid reporter, indeed.

Good thing the beer tent and the Mick Armitage band were close by to keep the good time going when the big stage was finished, or I might have been really angry with myself.

On Saturday, I asked a few concert-goers if the rain bothered them. Wiping a layer of wet off of the brim of his cowboy hat, one cowboy grinned and said “What rain?” Gotta love the constitution of country music lovers and rednecks.

Saturday night, after the supper break, my friend Tami Walls (who’d scored the other all-access pass because Peter was afraid all that country music would kill him) and I entered the back stage gate (because we could).

And who was standing right in front of us, waiting to start his show?

Gord Bamford.

So I walked right up and asked if I could have a few minutes after the show. He agreed with a big smile. Tami almost fainted.

Yeah, baby.

Gord Bamford and his band kicked up some high energy with their performance. The crowd was instantly involved and Gord was honoured with first standing ovation of the weekend. Gord and the band brought it to Lanark County and left the crowd dizzy from demanding more. Maybe that’s why they’ve garnered 15 CCMA award nominations this year.

As Lorrie played on, Bamford stayed after his show to meet his fans. The line was long and wound around the hundreds of lawn chairs back towards the beer tent. Gord stayed until he’d said hello to every last one of them and posed for as many pictures as his fans wanted.

Tami and I watched Lorrie Morgan take the stage and sing so many of our favourite songs in her sweet, sultry voice. But I kept my eye on the Y101 tent. The minute Gord said hello and goodbye to the last fan in line, it was my turn.

I was going to interview Gord Bamford.