THREE DAYS, 27 MU­SI­CAL ACTS, ALL FOR FREE

Satur­day after­noon

The Hamilton Spectator - - GO - TERRI CLARK

THE MAIN STAGE fea­tures an as­sort­ment of lo­cal bands, in­clud­ing Good­night Sun­rise (1:30 p.m.), a melodic-rock out­fit from Toronto fronted by the snarly Vanessa Vakharia, fol­lowed by Coy­ote Black, a four-piece pop-rock Hamil­ton group that’s been mak­ing waves in the lo­cal club scene. The high­light will be a rare ap­pear­ance by Hamil­ton roots rock­ers Huron (4:30 p.m.), fronted by the twin gui­tar at­tack of Aaron Gold­stein and Cam Mal­colm.

The se­condary stage — lo­cated at the band­shell — fea­tures four “alumni” acts with a de­cid­edly older sound, in­clud­ing Richard Kee­lan (12:45 p.m.), one of the founders of Cana­dian folk leg­ends Perth County Con­spir­acy (Kee­lan maybe the only bona fide folk artist in the lineup). Don’t miss high­land-funk band Taxi Chain, fronted by no­to­ri­ous bag­piper Grier Cop­pins (3:45 p.m.). From Hamil­ton there will be veteran rocker Tim Gib­bons (TG and the Swamp-busters (2:15 p.m.) and boo­gie and blues stal­warts Trick­bag (5:15 p.m.).

Note that the tim­ing of the two stages has been stag­gered to avoid sound bleed and al­low fes­ti­val­go­ers to catch every act.

THE THREE MAIN­STAGE acts come cour­tesy of the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment’s On tour pro­gram to help cel­e­brate Canada 150 — and the Fes­ti­val of Friends should be eter­nally grate­ful. First, there’s Scott Hel­man (7:15 p.m.) — a 21-year-old Toronto pop singer with the in­fec­tious hit “21 Days (’til the zom­bies come).” Warner Canada has the kid marked for fu­ture star­dom.

Next up is Kathleen Ed­wards (8:30 p.m.), one of Canada’s top song­writ­ers. She’s one of those artists who can make you laugh and cry at the same time. This is a rare per­for­mance for Ed­wards, who now runs a cof­fee bar in her home­town of Ot­tawa, and it could be an emo­tional one. Ed­wards spent five years liv­ing in Hamil­ton and wrote many of the songs for her crit­i­cally ac­claimed “Voyageur” al­bum here. Her band will in­clude lo­cal pedal steel mae­stro Aaron Gold­stein and long­time col­lab­o­ra­tor Jim Bryson.

The fes­ti­val head­liner is July Talk (9:45 p.m.), a Toronto band fronted by gravel-voiced Pe­ter Dreima­nis and the al­ways sur­pris­ing Leah Fay. July Talk is one of the hottest acts in Canada, re­cently shar­ing a sold-out bill with the Arkells at Toronto’s Bud­weiser Stage and on its way to sell­ing out three shows at Massey Hall in De­cem­ber.

THE TWO STAGES are pre­sent­ing a mish­mash of coun­try and rock Sun­day after­noon. The main­stage opens with two rock bands from the Hamil­ton club scene — Quar­ter in the Bag (noon) and The Red Decade (1:30 p.m.). They are fol­lowed by Bar­bara Lynn-Do­ran (3 p.m.), a coun­try rocker from Whitby and Late Night Con­ver­sa­tions (4:30 p.m.), an in­trigu­ing laid-back fu­sion band with some fairly riv­et­ing gui­tar in­ter­ludes.

The se­condary (band­shell) stage is pretty much de­voted to coun­try, with four up-and-com­ing On­tario in­de­pen­dent acts, in­clud­ing Burling­ton’s Rich Cloke (2:15 p.m.), Wa­ter­down’s Emma Elena Grace (3:45 p.m.) and the folkie multi-in­stru­men­tal­ist Ben­jamin Dakota Rogers, of Mount Pleas­ant, Ont.

Sun­day night

SUN­DAY NIGHT is for indie-rock fans, with the two main acts pro­vid­ing a strong con­trast. Hollerado (8 p.m.) is more of a con­ven­tional garage band orig­i­nally from Ot­tawa with a gift for writ­ing cheeky in­y­our-face rock­ers. They’ve been tour­ing North Amer­ica for the past 10 years and have de­vel­oped a strong fol­low­ing in the Hamil­ton area.

The Sun­day head­liner is Stars, an elec­tro-pop band that grew up in the Toronto art rock com­mu­nity with Met­ric and Bro­ken So­cial Scene. Stars is a rare treat as a free­bie and still big with the skinny jeans set. Ex­pect the band to per­form a cou­ple of songs from its up­com­ing al­bum “There Is No Love in Flu­o­res­cent Light,” which is sched­uled for re­lease in Oc­to­ber.

NEED TO KNOW: The re­turn to Gage Park also brings some lim­i­ta­tions, some brought about by con­struc­tion around the park’s green­house. Ex­pect a more tame mid­way than the one in An­caster, as well as far less on-site park­ing, re­stricted to about 1,000 ve­hi­cles at $10.

SINGER-SONG­WRITER KATHLEEN ED­WARDS

JULY TALK

THE RED­HILL VAL­LEYS

THE ABRAMS

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