Billed as the Rainmaker Fest, the 2012 Kinsmen event this past weekend in St Albert, Alberta, had absolutely beautiful perfect weather (not a drop of rain) for an amazing outdoor event. This year marked the 48th Annual Exhibition, Rodeo, Parade and Music Fest, and over the years, the Kinsmen have raised over 4.7 million dollars towards organizations such as STARS, Youth Scholarships, Cystic Fibrosis Research, St Albert Youth Volleyball, St Alberts Scouts, Riel & Red Willow Park Beautification, St Albert Kinettes Christmas Hamper, Cantilon Choral Society, Morinville Basketball Association, St Albert Playground Building Projects and many more.
St Albert is a pretty little town just on the outskirts of Edmonton (10 minutes to the West Edmonton Mall) and boasts well maintained roads, top notch hotels and decent eateries, as well as scenic views and community spirit. The parade stretched for a good mile or more and spectators stayed to view it all. The rodeo was jam packed throughout the weekend and the midway attracted families and teens too young to enter the 18+ music venue. Add to that the artisans and food vendors and it all made for a great weekend getaway.
The weekend line up included Rock n Roll bands Friday night (The Bear Band, Tupelo Honey, State of Shock, The Trews) and Country bands Saturday night ( Katie Mission, Beverly Mahood, Chad Brownlee and Dean Brody) – interestingly enough each night attracted a completely different crowd of people. Friday night was mostly under 40 and Saturday was mostly over 30. Many more people brought lawn chairs on Saturday night as well! Something unique -people that purchased alcoholic beverages were allowed to walk around anywhere they wished within the music venue instead of being tied to the beer garden tables, as the entire music area was fenced in with a security checked gate in for proper ID and a secondary check for purses and pockets. The audience had the freedom to roam within this entire area all night.
State of Shock hit the stage with a gusto, welcoming the crowd briefly and introducing them to new State of Shock music right from the start with F Word off their current album Rock n Roll Romance (no worries, F is for ‘fan’). A few of the more familiar Life Love and Lies megahits followed (Honeymoon’s Over, Best I Ever Had) and the crowd response was deafening. At one point, singer Cameron Melnyk stole a hat off a fan, wore it for half the song, then handed it back but not before delighting the female fan by rubbing his sweaty face on it first.
Guitarist Kadooh was in top form -took a few minutes to recognize him without his trademark mohawk (new hairstyle looks good) – and really ripped into the songs on his side of the stage. Typically he, bassist Alison Toews, and guitarist Jesse Wainright swap sides throughout the show to give fans a chance to see all band members, but on a more compact stage like tonight, it’s not always possible. Fans didn’t seem to mind though – smaller stage means closer to the band!
Part way through the set, the band experienced minor sound issues but they were sorted out quickly and the show never skipped a beat. Other songs from the new album were road tested (Gone n Done n Did It, Have a Nice Day, Wish I Woulda Wowed You) and were well received- Have a Nice Day had fans singing the chorus without any prompting from Melnyk. Drummer Johnny Philippon provided the backbeat as the band let the audience sing a few chorus’ acapella. Most drummers are sort of just ‘there’, but Philippon is as in your face as the rest of the band, smiling and making eye contact with as many of the audience as he can see.
The set ended with the band’s biggest hit (Double Platinum) Money Honey and the place was bouncing as the audience pogo’d with the rest of the band members to close out the show.
A break to tear down the gear and load out, then set up and tweak the sound (which too longer than anticipated) and suddenly a golf cart went zipping past with The Trews perched on the seats. They jumped out (literally) and up the few steps to the stage “Hello St Albert how ‘you all doing?”
Comparing one band to the other is like apples to oranges – both are equally good in their own way and both put 120% into the show and the crowd responded in kind! The Trews rock has a Celtic flair to some of the songs which makes it uniquely their own as does singer Colin MacDonald’s higher pitched vocals. Brother John-Angus on the guitar, Jack Syperek on bass and drummer Sean Dalton round out the four piece.
Set list started out with heavy hitters Not Ready to Go, So She’s Leaving and The World I Know, setting the tone for the rest of the show and really allow guitarist JA McDonald to shine.
Hope and Ruin should be familiar to any Canadian hockey fan, as the band’s song was used during last year’s NHL Playoff commercials! Paranoid Freak was fantastic, but I really did miss the solo piano bits in the intro and outro this time around.
Sing Your Heart Out hit the middle of the setlist and to have the audience behind and around me do just that, was mind blowing and the band felt it as well, evidenced by the smiles and kicking it up a notch (if that was even possible!).
The remainder of the set was enjoyed from the back of the tent so I could soak up the ambiance of the crowd intensity (and the sound was actually much clearer from further away, as the tent roof seemed to bounce the sound back in all directions). The place was jumping! The band closed out the show with an encore after much encouragement from the audience to come back on stage and as with State of Shock, they met fans briefly after the show for photo ops and autographs.
Saturday’s show deserves honorable mention – after a full day of parades, rodeo, and rides on the Midway, AND with a 4am lobby call, I caught the first 3 songs of Chad Brownlee and decided to call it a night.
All in all, it was a memorable weekend. The 11 hr road trip (one way) which included stunning travel vistas of Banff and Jasper was well worth it for a weekend getaway and I’ll be looking to go again next year.
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