For the second year at BNA and from what started as a jam / house party on Lakeshore Ave, The Fireside Sessions once again gives us a reason to wake up early from winter hibernation. This year, 13 local and regional acts took stage in what was a pretty rad Sunday in January – a festival in a brewhouse. “It’s like never leaving the beer gardens and the stage is inside!” Those words from Kristi Clarke drew my thoughts to wondering if we could do more of this type of fest in the winter, starting with the venue. Kyle Nixon, owner of BNA and his crew were ready for the crowd. The only complaint I heard was not enough glasses for beer, which speaking in dollars, is a good problem to have.
It didn’t take long to see the dedication from organizer Aaron DaSilva and his team, especially sound tech Shawn. He worked the transitions almost seamlessly with minimal time between acts. The format was a very aggressive 13 acts from 2pm til midnight so set-up and tear down was a huge factor. To accomplish this and squeeze in a quick sound check is impressive. The only tech issues were a dull mic 2 and a couple other minor things.
The lineup was diverse and talented as hell. Lotta beards and strings balanced out by a more electronic IMUR and the amazing Kytami. What was noticeable was the comradery of the artists. Everyone seemed to thoroughly enjoy and share in each others music. It lifted our spirits like an amazing house party in the middle of a very grey winter.
The smorgasbord of sound started with the raw roots reggae of Elk the Moose. But you can add a bluesy vibe to the description with great lap steel work by Kyle. It’s a shame they had to play the first slot.
Next was a married duo from Ontario, The Maple Keys. They reminded me of an ALt-folk version of Rodrigo y Gabriella, with serious fast licks complemented by melodic songs. I can only hope their marriage is as harmonious as their vocals.
When My Kind of Karma started, they demanded our attention like no other. They’re engaging, interactive and they like to have fun on stage. They showed some great dimension and personality. Seriously, you know its a party when someone breaks out the trombone!
Paper Trails offered a gear change with angst, big guitar rock and some blues. Virginia has a voice reminiscent of Gwen Stefani but with more whisky. I couldn’t see him, but definitely heard Mr. Lucas Drever’s power on that gold Les Paul. I guess you need a big guitar when you have this crazy man Chris Sallis-Leon hitting that kit like he does.
Ancient Engines (Formerly Le Markhor) kinda blew me away the first time I heard them, and not just because Torrey helps us find the perfect craft beer at Metro but because they start with that Kings of Leon sound in Matt’s vocals but somehow are as unique as it comes with a cross-over genre sound and powerful harmonies.
Our gracious host, Aaron DaSilva finally stopped the duties of organizer and took the stage as part of Wild Son. Kieran, Mitch and Cam round out the 4 piece. They are quickly gaining momentum and it’s not hard to see why with their unique funk/folk form and obvious passion for creating music. I’m sure we’ll be seeing more of them in the future.
Morning meetings and deadlines called us out early so we didn’t see the later bands or check out the after hours party but I’m sure it was just as much fun as the first half. I could go on and on about some of these talented bands so I better just conclude with a very hearty cheers and thanks for the good times. Can’t wait to see next year’s line up.