New Branch a home­com­ing of sorts for one band

The Compass - - EDITORIAL - BY NICHOLAS MERCER TC MEDIA nmercer@cb­n­com­pass.ca

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.”

New record

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

PHOTO SUB­MIT­TED BY SHEILA PRIEST

Bridges per­formed at Paddy’s Gar­den in Car­bon­ear on Aug. 27 as a part of the in­au­gu­ral New Branch Mu­sic and Arts Fes­ti­val.

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