The 11th Annual Manitoulin Country Fest is now in the history books. Great Lakes Country 103 (Little Current, ON) does a fantastic job organizing and making this event run as smoothly as possible. This year, 15 acts graced the MCF stage over three days. There were also two cruises, hosted by North Channel Cruise Lines, to take part in – the Wednesday night Fundraiser Dinner Cruise, which this year supported Manitoulin Community Living & Special Olympics; and the Friday Songwriter Showcase.
Wednesday was the unofficial start to the music festival. It was the perfect night for a cruise to mix and mingle with the passengers and enjoy some beautiful scenery and hear some great music by Warner Music Canada duo, The Abrams. Renowned Country Artist, Beverley Mahood, emceed the night. Prior to boarding the ship, patrons enjoyed a delicious 3-course meal on shore at the Rendezvous Pavilion.
On Thursday, the gates to Manitoulin Country Fest opened at 6:00 PM. An hour later, the first act of the festival, The Abrams, took to the stage with their own style of Country and Blue Grass music. This duo, whether performing acoustically, as they did on the cruise the night before or, backed by a full band on the MCF stage, always deliver an energetic show that gets the crowd on their feet. It is no wonder they won the CMA Ontario award for Roots Artist or Group of the Year.
Following The Abrams were Warner label mates, The Washboard Union. This trio knows how to bring the party and engage with their audience from the first note to the last. This was an entertaining set that included their hits including “Shot of Glory”, “Maybe It’s The Moonshine” and their current hit from their forth-coming album, “Shine”.
The headliner for this night was Corb Lund, who had a string of hits in the early to mid 2000’s with songs that included “Hair In My Eyes Like A Highland Steer”, “(Gonna) Shine Up My Boots” and more. He has continued to release new music over the years, the most recent album being, Things That Can’t Be Undone in 2015. Lund isn’t one to work the stage in the same way as the previous two acts. His was a more laid-back set, still earning positive reactions from the crowd. It is worth mentioning, he has one of the most beautiful guitars I have ever seen, a very detailed carved inlay design.
Late morning, on Friday, a group of people boarded the North Channel Cruise Lines ship once again. This time, it was for luncheon and Songwriter Cruise, featuring seasoned artists Beverley Mahood, with Kenny Munshaw accompanying on piano, Jamie Warren and relative new-comer, Ty Baynton. There were some great stories and many laughs mixed with several familiar songs, and a few newer ones.
Unfortunately, due to interview scheduling and inclement weather, the only photos this contributor could take was for Michelle Wright. What a fantastic performance! She is a class act with a very gracious demeanour. The look on her face as she interacted with the audience said it all, she loves performing for her fans. Her set was a definite lovefest.
The Friday headliner was none other than Dwight Yoakam; a definite fan favourite! It was a little disappointing that media were not allowed to take photos. However, we could watch the show from the crowd. His band wore glittery costumes, while Yoakam dawned a blue jean jacket and his infamous white cowboy hat. He is another artist who does not venture too far from his mic stand, but that didn’t seem to matter to the fans. It was about the experience of being there and taking in the music like a breath of fresh air.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of our Manitoulin Country Fest coverage coming soon!
See all photos from MCF 2017 here!