FOR A 10 MINUTE MINI DOCUMENTARY REGARDING THE CONCERT’S IMPACT FROM CBC TELEVISION PLEASE CLICK THIS LINK: http://www.cbc.ca/player/News/TV+Shows/The+National/ID/2402978733/
Grumpy isn’t much of a concert goer these days given the high cost commercialism inherent in most of these events. Yes, he dropped a little coin purchasing Brad Paisley tickets for the Smurf and the Good Wife but, it was a birthday present for the daughter after all.
Too many artists are out there charging big coin in order that they can earn gazillions of dollars. In reality Grumpy has allotted his meager entertainment budget to beer, wine, books and movie rentals. The cost of his satellite TV package more than compensates for the mega dollars he’d spend on live events. And, he can’t take his big old easy chair to the venue and have the refrigerator at arm’s length, can he?
Grumpy does remember some awe inspiring experiences from his past.
When he was 19 he hitch hiked to Rock Hill Park for an outdoor concert. (It was 1969 –the year of Woodstock) He remembers the drugs, the biker gangs with their ladies attached to dog collars and chains and the one butthole who nearly backed his car over the Grump’s sleeping bag – with Grumpy in it, of course.
He remembers the band King Biscuit Boy and Crowbar, among others, and how great the music was despite the fact that after a few days he smelled and looked like a homeless person. But, in the end, it was cheap entertainment at an amazing low price and somewhat of a life altering experience. Grumpy vowed, then and there, that he would do everything in his power to avoid being homeless, smelly and poor.
Some of his other concert experiences were not so fulfilling. He remembers when the “Davies of Canada” sang their rendition of “Unchained Melody” (Righteous Brothers) to an auditorium full of pubescent high schoolers at old Southwood S.S.
OMG! Nails on the chalkboard and a cat with his tail caught in the door!
But right here on the South Coast of Ontario the little town of Simcoe (Population 15 000) is experiencing something quite different when it comes to big high profile concerts. You see, the Gentlemen of the Road Tour (GORT) has arrived in town with the British Band, Mudford and Sons, as the star attraction. This is the band that received the Grammy for freaking Album of the Year in 2013.
In my era this would be like the Rolling Stones appearing in Ayr, Ontario at the ball park down by the grain elevators at the Co-Op.
Now the Mudford’ lads are not my favorite musicians. Indeed, Canada has a band called Great Big Sea that is of similar style and every bit as good. Alan Doyle, supported by his buddy actor Russell Crowe, has been around for more than 20 years, but Great Big Sea didn’t catch “the wave” (no pun intended) like the Mumford’s have this past few years. This is roots music after all.
I’ve heard the Mumfords described as Britain’s equivalent to Canada’s NICKLEBACK (sometimes referred to as NICKELCRAP). You know a band that is loved everywhere in the world but their own country. Their fan base is very specific, but exceedingly loyal.
But, none of this really matters because these Mudford Sons are cut from a different cloth when they perform. They have changed the very concept of the live event into a “really lively event”.
How you may ask?
Well, because these lads come in to your small town and create a WEEKEND FESTIVAL; a FESTIVAL that involves everyone in the community who is interested. These town folk are given the green light to promote their businesses and sell and promote their hearts content.
The Mumford Boys believe while they can reap the benefits from their concert, the entire community can financially benefit from them being there. It is their way of helping out rural towns that have experience some “down-on-your-luck” economics.
Also, Sean Palmerston (Supercrawl) added that, “Mumford & Sons, selected the sleepy Southern Ontario town after visiting and discovering it to be the birthplace of the Band’s Rick Danko.”
Simcoe has suffered a tobacco farming downturn, the closing of OPG’s Coal Powered Plant and the second lockout of workers at the huge U.S. Steel Plant in three years.
So, how refreshing is that?
Volunteers from the community will be wearing shirts that proclaim, “There’s no folk like NOR-FOLK!” And, gazillion events are planned, including a street festival in downtown Simcoe. The Blue Elephant Pub has brewed up a craft beer called, “Gentleman’s Lager”, there are street dinners and breakfasts, and the Legion has a daily brunch, while the entire core of Simcoe is closed down. Merchants are having street sales and local entertainers are performing music at several locations.
You can see the entire lineup by clicking on this link:
It is just amazing how much is going on!
The concert tickets cost a lofty $100 +, however this includes 11 well know bands plus the Mudford boys over two days. The ticket is like a passport and provides admission to all venues.
The concert portion of the festival is being held at the fairgrounds. 30 000 people are expected to attend, while some estimate that 60 000 will visit Simcoe over the weekend. Remember this is a town of only 15 000.
Hell, the Air Canada Center can hold more people than the town of Simcoe’s population.
There are beer tents and after parties, a farmers market on site, a sandy beach area, as well as a mini fall fair all within the confines of this 40 acre site.
Local produce, wines and craft beers are being featured all across these venues.
One of the most unique features Grumpy saw was a stand up piano randomly placed in the middle of the road. Anyone can play it. And, Grumpy heard that well after midnight last night someone had a group of concert goers around them singing HEY JUDE while they tinkled the ivories.
How cool is that?
Roving bands of local actors have been hired to preform impromptu performances within the concert venue and without: providing street theatre at its finest. There have been several “FLASH MOBS” reported, too. And, of course, there are buskers galore.
And get this, the Grand Finale of the concert involved an on stage rendition of the Band’s “The Weight” (Musicians from all the performing bands participated) as a fitting tribute to THE BANDS” Rick Danko, a native of Norfolk County, who started his music career way down here in the outback.
How cool was that?
Live Nation, the biggest concert promotion company in the world, along with community leaders have organized this mammoth undertaking with attention to every detail. Grumpy even saw a mini fire truck on a quad, manned by two firefighters travelling over to one of the campsites.
People from all over North America have trekked to our little town to take in this festival. The local newspaper reported that one 19 year old from Bangor, Maine remarked, “Where the F . . . is Simcoe anyway?” when he set out on his long journey.
Well, after all of this, a whole lot of people will know where the – “F” – Simcoe is. And, thankfully each and every one of them has left a whole whack of their dollars behind. The benefits to the community will be long-lasting. Everyone hopes that many of these visitors will return for a second look!
So, Grumpy says, “Thank you Mumfords and Live Nation!” He may not like your music but he sure as hell likes your approach to doing business.
Wouldn’t it be nice if more artists and bands took this approach? Maybe there is hope. Maybe Grumpy will have a little chat with Brad Paisley in October?
And, watch out Ayr Ontario the Beebs might just latch on to this great idea. Get that ball diamond grass cut, people! Hang the bunting up on those grain elevators and fire up the pig roasters. The thundering hordes of humanity might just be coming your way, sooner than you think!
BTW: You can view some of the happenings from this fun festival here.
FOR AN IN DEPTH REPORT FROM THE HAMILTON SPECTATOR CLICK THE LINK BELOW