Throughout Dawson, music enthusiasts swarmed the stages. This year’s Dawson City Music Festival (DCMF) took over the Palace Grand Theatre and a circus-styled tent for main stage in the ball field.
From July 17 to 19, musicians and fans rubbed shoulders at saloons, workshops and evening rock-out shows. The weekend was total immersion in music, Dawson-style.
Friday night …
Johnny and the Moon, a side project of Dante DeCaro of Wolf Parade indie-rock fame. I was expecting bold, exuberant, brash energy, but DeCaro surprised us with folksy, engaging music, more toned down than Wolf Parade.
I was hoping for a bit more rock-out. The band, shod in flip-flops, swayed and hummed soulful tunes. Johnny and the Moon had depth, but the vibe was a bit laid-back for Friday.
Next up was Luke Doucet, the singer-songwriter proclaimed “best young guitarist in the country,” by the Toronto Star. He didn’t disappoint. Strong and emotive, he backed his vocals up with excellent guitar and female-vocalist harmonization.
I went home with the evening’s last song echoing in my head – “I’ve got a bad desire, ooh ooh ooh, I’m on fire …”, sung in harmony with his wife and bandmate, Melissa McClelland. The crowd chanted along to close out the night.
The applause was thunderous and the sultry song wafted in the air long afterward.
Saturday night …
I was excited that Mother Mother was performing. I had recently become obsessed about their song O My Heart, so I was ready to rock. I had a sneak peek attending the Siren Songs workshop where Molly Guldemond and Jasmin Parkin, of Mother Mother, performed in an acoustic jam session with DCMF female musicians.
Melanie Bergeron, of the Montréal band, Gadji Gadjo, stunned us with her accordion playing. The accordion is such an intense and varied instrument.
Evening shows began at the Palace Grand Theatre, a gorgeous old-time theatre complete with opera boxes, Union Jacks and American flags. We were lucky to be there on the theatre’s 110th anniversary.
The standout show was The Acorn, an indie-folk band from Ottawa, Ontario. The lyrics were rock-solid with quirky percussion and smooth harmonization. CBC Radio 3 recorded them during the show and host Grant Lawrence introduced the bands.
Winding up DCMF (for me) was Mother Mother on the main stage. The crowd pulsed with the beat and the music powered us on. They played old favourites and, to my delight, finished with O My Heart. The crowd went wild … crowd surfing and surging with energy.
Don’t miss the next DCMF nestled among the historic Dawson storefronts. Who knows what eclectic new act you’ll discover.