New Branch a homecoming of sorts for one band
There was a time when concerts like the one put off in Carbonear Aug. 26-28 were commonplace in the area.
There were the larger events like Bay Roberts’ Klondyke Days concert, and a smaller subset of shows featuring high school bands playing alternative music.
The disenchanted youth of the day crammed themselves into the old Lions Club in Carbonear or the Blue Whale in Dildo for the chance to see some of their early rock heroes put on show after show.
Bands like Nice Guy Eddie and Backseat Driver entertained hundreds at a time with their unique brand of highenergy rock.
Blaketown’s Jonathan Mercer remembers going to many of those shows. He was probably playing in a lot of them with any number of bands on the go at the time.
“I’m sad to know its not there any more,” he said. “When it was good, it was really good.”
That’s what made the New Branch Music and Arts Festival performance by Mercer’s band Bridges as close to a hometown show as you can get.
Coincidentally, Bridges’ vocalist Brendan Phillips and guitarist Steve Woodman were in Backseat Driver in their younger days. Bob Tuck rounds out the band on drums.
There might have not been a ton of people around the field for the three days, but that didn’t take away from the celebratory feeling of the shows.
“It was sort of like a homecoming,” said Mercer. “It was lots of fun.”
The festival — held over three days at Paddy’s Garden in Carbnonear Aug. 26-28 — had a little bit for everything for the local music fan to sample.
“Every act was sort of different,” said Mercer. “It was a pretty cool experience. It was incredible to see.”
With a full-length and a couple of EPs (extended play) already under their belts, Bridges is hard at work on it’s second album in six years as a band.
The songs they’ve recorded are in post-production and they have eyes on a late 2016/ early 2017 release.
“We’ve put a lot of work into it over the past couple of years,” said Mercer. “It’s very riffy, it’s very loud … and it’s just a lot of energy.”
At times, it can be hard to define the exact category that Bridges falls into. Their debut full length is full of punk, posthardcore and metal sounds.
Think in their prime At The Drive-In crossed with some Fall of Troy and you’ll have an idea of what you’re going to get on the record. Every show is high energy and it shows on their recordings.
The New Branch experience is something new for the area. It’s rare to see a three-day concert series being put off outside.
Bridges would like to see it happen again.
“I’d really like it too,” said Mercer. “I think it’s a great showcase for Newfoundland artists and it shows that we’re not just traditional music here. We have a wide array of musicians and bands here that your average person wouldn’t even suspect.”
I think it’s a great showcase for Newfoundland artists and it shows that we’re not just traditional music here. Jonathan Mercer
Bridges performed at Paddy’s Garden in Carbonear on Aug. 27 as a part of the inaugural New Branch Music and Arts Festival.