Last weekend was my first time at Harvest Moon Festival.
I have heard incredible things over the years. Many of my friends who attend Shine On Music Festival also attend Harvest Moon.
I knew I was walking into a good situation on Friday night when we pulled up to hear the sounds of Micah Visser’s sweet new EP. I wasn’t sure if I should expect a rowdy ol’ time, like that of Shine On, or something more family friendly like Folk Fest. I quickly learned to expect both, plus a little more.
The festival sported a lineup full of great musicians. I really wanted to arrive in time for Living Hour on Friday. I step up my tent during their first song, and once I had the bare minimum done, I sprinted over with my camera and my heart on my sleeve to fall in love with their dreamy shoegaze tones.
I saw a huge range of talent over the weekend. The Lytics played on Saturday night, alongside the Joey Landreth Trio, Ridley Bent and The Sweet Alibi. What a line up, right? A great range of music. They all played on the main stage.
Friday night was phenomenal. Driving in to the sounds of Micah was encouraging (I didn’t miss Living Hour! Thank god they’re behind schedule…), and staying awake and alert for Begonia was the best decision I made all weekend. Alexa Dirks has a voice that sent me back in time, through soul, blues, indie and rock. She brought my heart right out into that field. I relished her vocal prowess. The crowd loved her too.
One of my favourite bands graced the restaurant stage on Saturday afternoon. They played with a line up that I thought easily could have performed on the main stage that night. I was grateful for the intimacy, though. Slow Spirit plays a particular kind of proggy folk that I’ve never heard anywhere else.
I first saw them at Shine On, and though I don’t have much memory of that experience, I distinctly recall them playing at the Frame Arts Warehouse for Nuit Blanche that year. I fell in love fast. The tempo changes, variety of rhythms and mastery on each instrument had me.
I haven’t listened to them as much in the past six months. This show brought me right back, though, and reminded me why I asked Natalie to sign my CD at Real Love last year…
Slow Spirit played alongside A La Mode, Roger Roger, BB Gun and Carly Dow. Again, one of my biggest issues… when there’s too much good music at once. I had to hop between Slow Spirit and Kieran West & His Buffalo Band.
I went to Harvest Moon for the stellar line up. Admittedly Slow Spirit was the major selling point for me. I was pleasantly surprised in nearly every way until late Saturday night.
I probably had a bit too much wine in the heat that afternoon and slept for a good portion of the evening’s programming. I’m sad I missed Ridley Bent.
I woke up to the sounds of someone making farting noises with their mouth. It was silly enough to draw me out of my warm tent. I ventured over to the stage to the sounds of 90’s pop music, thanks to an impromptu “supergroup” called Guilty Pleasures.
Guilty is right. I knew the songs… and I didn’t want to! I wish I hadn’t. The crowd was into it, so I hung around and bobbed along… Alexa Dirks did an incredible job. Joey Landreth was good on the guitar. I just wish they’d chosen music I could genuinely get into.
Workshops & Market
Harvest Moon was my first experience at an educational festival. It’s actually a fundraiser for a local organic farming initiative called the Harvest Moon Society. They grow local food and help people in Manitoba get involved with local economy by connecting farmers with eaters.
The workshops varied in topic, from the history of Swan Lake First Nation, to DIY bee keeping, to education on proportional representation in our electoral system, to a natural death burial workshop. I didn’t have a chance to attend any (because I’m a die-hard music fan who wants to sit at a stage in the grass with a glass of red wine and my hat) but a few of my friends helped out with one, and they said it went very well.
Local crafters set up in the market space on Saturday selling ethically made goods. You could find all sorts of ceramics, jewellery, clothing, candles, and so on. Everyone was really friendly and beautiful and I usually hate shopping (hello anti-capitalist) but this was a space I could feel good about buying stuff in.
The farmers market offered a similar array of vendors, but all food. All food and ethically made and probably all delicious, though the only stuff I bought was dehydrated mangos and bananas from Farmageddon Foods.
Between the workshops and the market, Harvest Moon provides an incredible atmosphere that merges family enjoyment, education, progressive social organization, incredible talent and the summer party atmosphere everyone loves. Everything you could buy in the markets supported a local economy. Part of my love for the local music scene is watching my money go towards someone’s future or enjoyment. When I buy a CD for a touring band, I know I’m helping them eat. When I should have bought a shirt from Micah Erenberg, I would have been feeding Logan McKillop!
It’s okay, I’ll buy a shirt and CD this weekend and the LP release. Anyway, my point — money doesn’t feel so bad when you can see the positive difference it makes in a person’s life.
I need to feature Living Hour. I saw them two nights in a row.
I bought a ticket to Royal Canoe when I heard Living Hour was opening for them. I like Royal Canoe, they’re nice sounds, I’ve seen them live and they can be fun. But currently I’m fangirling over Living Hour.
I bought their CD over the summer after seeing them live a couple times. I hadn’t really dug into it until this past month, though. Once I started to dig in, I found a place amongst their sound waves that carries me to another corner of my heart.
I’m not sure exactly how to explain it. Listen to the song This Is The Place.
Gradual melodies, with a big atmospheric sound, and Sam Sarty’s voice holding my hand all the way through. Because I see bands live before I buy the album, I get a sense of the people who play the music. Which is wonderful. Try it. When I listen to Living Hour, I can practically see Gil Carrol’s curls bobbing up and down as he intentionally strums his guitar.
They had a perfect sound for the Burt. I don’t usually like the Burt, because some tones get really lost between the high ceiling and the balconies. But Living Hour had the sound to fill the space in a delicate and tactful way. My only struggle was needing glasses to see them down on the stage.
I was okay with the distance knowing I could see them the next night and stand where ever I’d like. I last saw them at The Good Will, meaning I can stand like right next to them on stage. But the change was a nice indication of how their work is progressing. And I still get to see them up close at times.
My 15 -year-old self would probably judge me for liking Living Hour. I’ve never heard of shoegaze before them. I never listened to much indie until the past three years.
I grew up on Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd, Yes, Bob Marley, and so on. I got into Tool and Clutch and Queens of the Stone Age and the like in my teenage years. I never expected to be into dreamy music, or shoe gaze, or whatever we’re calling it.
But I’m overjoyed about it. I trust my taste in music. I’m letting myself branch out. And I’m letting myself connect with music made by people I can talk to regularly. Where I can see their passion and dedication in my everyday life.
I listen to this album almost every single day. And each time brings memories to mind from music festivals, concerts, and casual interactions with the world around me. And for once (or twice), the world around me seems like somewhere I want to go and stay.
I walk around downtown and sing along to Sam’s voice, knowing I don’t match her depth or control. But it feels awesome. And I really hope she feels as good, if not better, singing her songs as I do.
Living Hour left that following morning for a 6-week UK/North American tour. I wish them luck, food, sleep and many new friends along the way. If you’re not in Winnipeg, check out their Facebook page and see where you can catch them next.