I got to stay up really late two nights in a row to see rock concerts! And I got to show my friend Jenn, our pet guinea pig!
So this weekend was the 41st edition of Home County Music & Art Festival. In years past that has meant a lot more than it did this year as we’ve had friends from all over Canada and even the United States show up for the weekend festival. It meant for us a very busy weekend that included a lot of friends, a lot of great music, and some nights that went into the wee-wee hours before we called it a “night”. And while it was certainly a lot of fun, it was also a very exhausting weekend for my tired, ole bones. This year however was shaping up to be a lot more downscale as we had friends who were battling viruses, friends who had bosses screw up which week they were booking off work, and friends, who were just well… festival traveled out. And while I love having all my friend who care about music together in my city, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t relishing a lower key, earlier bedtime pace at the festival this year.
It even managed to happen that I was able to produce and wrap up the festival program book in easy fashion with less headache that it has ever been. In fact I didn’t want to jinx a single thing and mention it until I saw the printed version this week. But that 3-4 weeks of putting it together that I dread each year was – I am almost still hesitant to say – a breeze. It was sent off to the printer before we headed out in Wolfie at the start of the month!
So back to this weekend music festival thingy… It wasn’t that we didn’t have friends in the city that were set to enjoy it with us. It also wasn’t that people weren’t coming in to town to enjoy it either. Nor was it that the lineup wasn’t that stellar. In fact, I’d almost challenge – any year Sarah Harmer is booked withstanding – this year’s lineup was one of the best since I have been involved with the festival (which coincidentally goes back to 2007). It just happened that the group of friends we had around for the weekend was going to be decidedly smaller and more dedicated to lower key, less structured flow to the festival and that was perfectly fine by Danielle and I given all that has gone on in the last year for us.
Friday night of the festival kicked off (for us) with Trent Severn, Jenn Grant and the night ended with Whitehorse. Sandwiched in between Jen and Whitehorse was Elisapie an artist with Inuk heritage I was excited to see. Trent Severn features Emm Gryner who Danielle got to play my 40th birthday party at our house, and of course Jenn Grant is also a close friend (who has also played our living room). But the host for the main stage that night was also a good personal friend in Craig Norris former host of CBC Radio 3 and now a CBC Radio One host on the morning show out of Kitchener-Waterloo. The evening featured as many friends on stage as it did alongside us in the audience. The music was amazing and I dare say it was the best, complete lineup of performances on the main stage bandshell of the three nights. We closed out the night, keeping Emelia up way past her bed time with a visit on our friend Allyson’s porch in our old stomping grounds of Wortley Village in Old South. The best part was getting the chance to reconnect with our old pal Craig Norris and talk all things horses, CBC and Allyson’s weird neighbours—it was a fantastic evening.
With a festival that doesn’t start until noon on Saturday or Sunday and not a single house guest all weekend, we were afforded the luxury of being extra lazy and slow both mornings. We lallygagged around the house until almost noon before we thought about getting around to leaving the house which turned out for the better because that was when the rain started. We packed extra gear to accommodate for such moisture and then made it to the park and planted ourselves as well as we could under the protection of the workshop tent awning.
And while the rain didn’t stop for the rest of the day until dusk, we didn’t let it dampen our spirits. We managed to catch three different and equally fantastic workshops that really showcased what I have come to love about songs-in-the-round: collaboration! The highlight for me was the workshop called I’ll Find An Ocean which ended with two songs that everyone on the workshop stage found a way to contribute to. In fact our own friend Meg, homesick for her Maritimes found herself with a case of the feelies, longing time back east. That is the sign of good music!
When that, the last of the workshops on my must-see list on Saturday wrapped up we packed up the car and took Emelia for a drive in hopes that she would find herself in a deep nap. And thankfully that did happen to the tune of about an hour which gave us just enough time to rally the troops that were in town and organize and impromptu gathering at the Teeter House which has been a big part of the festival tradition since we started inviting our music-loving friends to London for the festival. In fact I was kind of concerned that it might not happen for the first time. But in that short hour-long nap we organized a moderate gathering of people who we really happen to like a lot, and like a lot of the things we do too.
We snuck back down to the bandshell at the park once Emelia awoke so we could catch one more band Daddy had to see: The Beatuies. Once they finished their performance it was back to the house to meet up with friends to join in the fellowship of the love of music. We first had to swing by the Delta Armouries to pick up Emelia’s buddy, Jenn Grant and her bassist Tavo. We gave them a night off from performing in our house again, but invited them to a home away from home for a low key night of laughter and children’s board games.
And we had that in spades. The evening wrapped up at about midnight as we were all yawning and ready for slumber—Emelia the most ready of the bunch. But it was an absolute delight to see Emelia come out of her shell and coach a room full of Mommy & Daddy’s friends on the finer points of playing the Pinkalicious board game (which she of course won). I gave rides to those that needed them, and we called it a night.
Consistently one thing we’ve loved about the festival is that by nature of the programming Sunday always ends up being a much easier day. As people are leaving town or getting back into their daily lives, there doesn’t end up being this mass of workshops and performances I have to see. After being trapped in rain all day Saturday we had resigned that if the weather repeated on Sunday we’d find other plans. But if the weather cooperated we would be certain to see Cold Specks and Bry Webb‘s performances later in the afternoon. But that was it on our radar. And in the end, all we did. We had the most amazingly slow start to the day that included the three of us mostly and ended the same way. I mean we did run in to lots of friends at the part while we were there, but for the most part it was all low key and easy-peasy-lemon-squeezey which is pretty much the most perfect way to end the festival and our weekend together.
This weekend puts us precisely two weeks away from our next excursion out in Wolfie: A week at Sandbanks Provincial Park and then a weekend at the festival where Wolfe got her name: Wolfe Island Music Festival. I am pretty excited about that!
Our week started with music and ended with music, a perfect bookend. Monday night John and I had tickets to see Justin Rutledge in Stratford at the Church Restaurant. I had been to this amazing venue in May with Emelia when John was gone for training in California. It is one of the most incredible places I have ever seen music. The acoustics are amazing, the setting is beautiful and it is so intimate. I love everything about it. John and I had dinner with Helen and Doug and then quickly made our way off to Stratford while Emelia went back to their house for the night. The night was full of music and lots of time for John and I to just spend together. We really needed this time just us and it was perfect.
The rest of the week was a bit of a blur. First I have been back to insane sleep battles with Emelia. Long fights to get her to sleep and an incredible recession to dependence on one of us to be in the room to fall asleep. Well at least this is what I deal with. She does not give John nearly the battles I have to deal with although he did get a taste of the frustration on Wednesday night when she woke in the middle of the night and then proceeded to fight going back to sleep for hours. Needless to say we were both at our wits end. By the end of the week she was back on track thankfully because we had a full weekend ahead.
Add into the mix we have our newest member of the family in Taffy. We had never owned a guinea pig and she was not settling in very well. She loved being snuggled and cooed a lot but she wasn’t eating or drinking. After a bit of advice and research we gave her some quiet space and snuggles only when it was the three of us. She finally came around and is doing amazing. She has an amazing little personality and we never knew how chatty these little creatures are. We have all fallen in love with her and her crazy hair!
So needless to say after all this and the long nights we really were looking forward to reconnecting with our favourite festival. After a week of sleep battles with Emelia and late nights I have to say I was beyond pleased that this years Home County was a much quieter pace. I did miss our close friends who typically make the trek down but I did love the quiet pace we managed to have this year.
Friday night was certainly a highlight of highlights. Emelia was a trooper and she has certainly become a festival kid. She rolls with the punches and loves seeing as many musical acts as we can. She just loved seeing one of her favourite musicians Jenn Grant and she found another new love in Whitehorse. I have to say watching her dance and snuggle in to watch the acts well into the night made John and I so happy.
Like I said it was strange this year that we had a much quieter group, we didn’t have any overnight guests, we missed our festival friends. It didn’t quite feel like a Home County weekend, some of our normal traditions didn’t happen this year, no breakfast at the Bag Lady but we did have one of our favourite traditions. Our porch party. Well this year with the cooler temps and constant rain in the day turned into a living room party.
Emelia was loving having everyone over and finally after 4+ years of going to the festivals with many of the same group of friends she is finally coming out of her shell and spent the night showing off Taffy to our friends, playing board games that she initiated, and building ‘castles’ with Derek and Allyson. All in all it was a quite perfect night with our great friends, great music and our little family. Honestly what more could we ask for?
So our tired girl is settled for the night and John and I are going to settle down for what is the remained of our weekend. So until next week…