Exploits Valley Salmon Fest concert wows huge crowd

Music Fans not deterred by cool temperatures

David Newell editor@advertisernl.ca
Published on July 21, 2009

Many concertgoers summed up Saturday's Salmon Festival show with one word ... "wow!"

After several months of preparation, Grand Falls-Windsor Town Councillor and chairman of the Salmon Festival committee Jim Courtney was pleased with the result of the efforts.

"It was huge," he said. "The enthusiasm of the crowd (was great) and some of the comments I got from the crowd last night called it the best ever."

Grand Falls-Windsor -

Many concertgoers summed up Saturday's Salmon Festival show with one word ... "wow!"

After several months of preparation, Grand Falls-Windsor Town Councillor and chairman of the Salmon Festival committee Jim Courtney was pleased with the result of the efforts.

"It was huge," he said. "The enthusiasm of the crowd (was great) and some of the comments I got from the crowd last night called it the best ever."

While final numbers for the event will not be determined for several days, the crowd appeared to surpass many of the successful shows hosted in the past 25 years.

Local rockers Papa String warmed up the crowd on what was a cool afternoon with their mixture of straight-ahead rock 'n' roll and danceable funk, anchored by the smoky vocals of Alison O'Keefe.

Newfoundland favourites The Navigators kept the party going with some traditional tunes and up-and-coming country star Tara Oram, a native of Hare Bay, endeared herself to the crowd with her latest hits.

Johnnie Reid turned up the heat even more with a set that included tunes that proved why he was chosen the Canadian Country Music Association Male Artist of the Year in 2008.

He left the stage at one point to be closer to his adoring fans, who appeared to be from a wide demographic of pre-teens to seniors.

Next up was St. John's-based Hey Rosetta!, who are well-known throughout the country for its unique brand of garage rock that incorporates traditional rock instruments with violin and cello.

The Verge Music Award-winning band impressed the crowd with its energy and artistry.

Between musical acts, Donnie Dunphy took to the stage, along with his girlfriend, Brenda. Not far away was Donnie's sidekick, Mike, whose "bling" included a hubcap hanging from a heavy chain.

Perhaps the biggest act for many was five-time Grammy nominee Akon, whose hip hop and R&B singles have earned him 23 Billboard Hot 100 singles. He was the first solo artist in history to hold the No. 1 and No. 2 spots on that chart simultaneously.

His energetic stage show culminated when he, too, left the stage to perform closer to the audience.

His handlers held him at the edge of the crowd and several times thrust him onto the outstretched arms of his fans, who lifted the artist while he continued to sing.

Even members of the audience who were not previously familiar with songs such as "I Wanna Love You" and "It Don't Matter" before they arrived at the show were Akon fans when they left.

Courtney saw Akon's performance as one of the highlights of the night.

"Certainly, what can you say about Akon," he said. "He was one of the best surprises. He was awesome."

The night ended with Our Lady Peace, a band that has won five Juno awards and 10 Much Music Video awards in their 17-year history.

Led by vocalist and guitarist Raine Maida, fans were treated to a selection of the band's most well-known songs, such as "Innocent" and "Clumsy," along with tunes from their album "Burn, Burn," which is due for Canadian release Tuesday.

The cool temperatures did not seem to deter fans from coming out for the event.

Courtney was more than pleased with the final product.

"What else can you say?" he mused. "People walked away from that event quite happy."

The fun continues for Grand Falls-Windsor Day today, where an afternoon barbecue on High Street with face painting and pony rides for kids will be followed by Newfie Night at the Joe Byrne Memorial Stadium.

That event will feature fish and brewis, a Screech-in and music provided by Will and Brian and The Killicks.

Later in the night, patrons can dance away to Young at Heart.