Home Feature Dispatches from the Hillside Festival day one (Friday)

Dispatches from the Hillside Festival day one (Friday)

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Andrew Collins. Photo by Alex Leikermoser.

The sound of distant African drums greets us at the gates of the 40th anniversary edition of the Hillside Festival, feeding our anticipation of the drum workshops to come this weekend.

We arrive in time for the Indigenous opening ceremony, which outlines the weekend’s theme of peace. A call-and-response Annishinaabe chant invites us to always “start with our hearts.”

Then, on the Sun Stage, we take in a session of amazing world fusion featuring Canadian folk festival royalty Sultans of String and Mongolian sensations Namgar, who perform folk songs that are sometimes hundreds of years old. Their leader, Namgar Lhasaranova, comes from the east borderland where three countries, Russia, Mongolia, and China, meet. She inherited a rich singing tradition of the Buryat people who reside in Russian regions of Buryatia and Agin Buryat Region. The performance is jam featuring unique stringed instruments, including the nykelharpa, played by frequent Sultans collaborator Saskia Tomkins, the koto, and a banjo-like instrument made from wood and snakeskin. Rebecca Campbell guests on a version of Neil Young’s Heart of Gold and Amanda Martinez sings “Que Bonita es esta Vida,” which translates to “What a beautiful life this is.”

On the Island Stage, the Andrew Collins Trio plays to a full tent, picking and grinning and shredding on mandolin and fast picking guitars showcasing orininals and a very cool Pink Floyd cover of “Goodbye Blue Sky.” Awesome!

Then Tami Neilson knocks it outta the park on the Main Stage with her brother on guitar and a fab drummer whose name I unfortunately don’t know. It’s her first time at Hillside, and she is fierce! She’s singing some feminine anthema and sharing her challenges of being a woman in the biz. And it’s inspiring to see young gals on the dance floor as she belts out “I wanna care less!” She’s a true performer who had us all up and dancing while she showcased some amazing gold cowboy boots!

The final act of the night for us was Ariel Posan on the Lake stage. He performed with a trio of guitar, bass and drums and entranced us with this honest lyrics and amazing guitar leads. In short, he rocked!

We can’t wait to see what tomorrow has in store!

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