Burlington Sound of Music Free Outdoor Concerts and Reviews 2014

What is so attractive about Burlington’s Sound of Music Festival?

Free music performances, all day, all night, for 4 nights from June 12th to June 15th. A little known fact is that on June 7th, 2014, there is an additional round of concerts to kick off the festival that starts the father’s day weekend after that. Some notable acts for the kick off are Teenage Head, Kim Mitchell, Stone River, Carol Pope of Rough Trade, Lou Gramm: The voice of Foreigner and Coney Hatch. For a full festival lineup to plan this concert mecca, visit http://www.soundofmusic.ca/bands. The website is excellent since you can read about all the bands, listen to samples of their music, and get really pumped!

Burlington Pier 2013 Debut at Sound of Music Festival. Photo by Paula Erskine

Burlington Pier 2013 Debut at Sound of Music Festival. Photo by Paula Erskine

Based on last years festivities, I have a few tips.

The festival is located primarily at Spencer Smith Park where Brant Street meets Lakeshore road. Lake Ontario is a magical backdrop to the festivities, usually hosting nightly fireworks.

Bring a fold-up portable chair. If you bicycle down, you will have to walk your bike in Spencer Smith Park. There is a bike corral behind the Waterfront Hotel where you can lock up your bike under supervision for a few bucks. I have never done either of these things, but always say I will next time. Bring a blanket to sit on, or wander freely from stage to stage enjoy the musical notes infiltrating the air. There is also a “sea” wall to sit on and people watch.

Brant Street gets closed to traffic and becomes pedestrian. Brant Street usually has several stages, looks like 4 this year, with many bands scheduled in close proximity to the viewer. The Brant street acts are great for those who want to sit on the surrounding patios, but are situated on the streets so any passer by can have an intimate concert experience and meet some musicians up close.

Parking-there are shuttle services that you can inquire about from the festival organizers and Burlington Transit. There are some paid parking spots at the No Frills Plaza north of Caroline street on Brant, and some public lots near the Burlington Performing Arts Centre. The Burlington and Mapleview Malls have huge free parking lots and buses going to the festival. Fairview Go/Bus Station (west of Guelph line, east of Brant street) has shuttles going to the festival as well.

Thursday June 12th is usually less busy, even in the evening, and this helps if you want to get closer to the outdoor stages in Spencer Smith Park and have some elbow room. My advice, no offence, is to avoid the “tribute bands” based on the U2 tribute from last year (Bono is a tough act to follow). But you be the judge. I would much rather listen to original music acts which will be featured from 7:00 pm Gentlemen Husbands, Young Rival and am particularly interested in The Sheepdogs at 9:45 pm based on the videos I spotted on the festival website. 

The Sheepdogs exceeded my expectations at the Burlington Sound of Music Festival 2014. Influences from The doors and other great rockers, but still having their own authentic sound. Unapologetic about their guitar ballads. Photo by Paula Erskine

The Sheepdogs exceeded my expectations at the Burlington Sound of Music Festival 2014. Influences from The doors and other great rockers, but still having their own authentic sound. Unapologetic about their guitar ballads. Photo by Paula Erskine

The afternoons are filled with family friendly bands starting on Friday June 13th at 1pm.

You may attend during the day, but you don’t want to miss the cooler summer evenings and the fabulous and infamous Burlington Pier which made its debut at The Sound of Music Festival in 2013.
Once it gets dark, the pier’s rocket ship structure becomes a rainbow of changing colours which make us Burlingtonians proud to invite music lovers from all over the world to enjoy its glory too.

Think we have a bunch of no name acts? Think again…Just because they are not on the Top 40, doesn’t mean they are not excellent bands. Many are singer-songwriters and have won Junos, accolades, and have enjoyed great success or about to get really big. But you can see them in Burlington, first. Yes there are some amazing acts that we grew up with that we perhaps never had a chance to attend their concerts.

But there are many bands that are coming up with new material, and on the verge of creating something new and exciting. Read my account of last year’s festivities to see old acts re-invent themselves. You might not recognize their names, but they have always been in the music industry, going from band to solo to new combinations of fabulous music.

Sundays closing concerts on June 15th are also very enjoyable, but start earlier. A lot of dance/Justin Timberlake type acts and singers from 1:00pm to 3:45pm like PRTY H3RO, JRDN and Karl Wolf which I definately recognized once I listened to their videos embedded on the The Sound of Music Festival website. I will probably attend Trooper at 5:30pm on the Festival Stage since they were famous when I was a wee lass. Plus I really enjoyed the closing concert last year of 54 40 where everyone was so chilled after days of free music and you could feel that universal love in the air. I narrowly missed April Wine preceding them which were literally heros for 54 40. So great to hear bands praising other bands that inspired them to become who they are today.

Notable acts this year June 2014 and famous for kicking up his kilt, award winning, modern and legendary fiddler Ashley MacIsaac on Sunday June 15th at 3:45pm.
Sloan plays Saturday June 14th on the OLG stage (there are 3 stages in Spencer Smith Park with Jumbo Tron screens).
Jarvis Church plays the Cogeco Stage on Friday June 13th at 9:45pm.
Colin James, Gord Downie and The Sadies, Trooper, Chilliwack, Hip hop artist Classified, Sons of Revelry, and Maestro Fresh Wes want you to come on down and let your backbone slide.
Many wonderful musical acts to relate to and appreciate and this year’s fantastic, bombastic, get your groove on music festival that is not to be missed. I wouldn’t miss it for anything!

Get off the couch, go to Spencer Smith Park in Burlington, and feel the music!

POST SOUND OF MUSIC 2014 REPORT AND PHOTO JOURNAL

The Burlington Pier continues to emanate a light play since it's inaugural debut at the Sound of Music Festival. Photo by Paula Erskine

The Burlington Pier continues to emanate a light play since it’s inaugural debut at the Sound of Music Festival. Photo by Paula Erskine

It was impossible to see all 100 free concerts in 4 days in Burlington, Ontario this past June 2014, but I certainly put a dent into my concert repertoire. I just wanted to report on the best acts. I took about 15 minutes to plan my concert outings by going to the sound of music website, view the music videos attached to each artist, printed out a chart, and circled the bands that intrigued me. Some quick notes on following my musical tastes are as follows:

The Sheepdogs played opening night and absolutely rocked it at the Sound of Music Festival 2014. One of the best of 100 free concerts held in Burlington, Ontario. Photo by Paula Erskine

The Sheepdogs played opening night and absolutely rocked it at the Sound of Music Festival 2014. One of the best of 100 free concerts held in Burlington, Ontario. Photo by Paula Erskine

The Sheepdogs, I believe orginally from Saskatchewan, were all about playing great music, and we enjoyed them on opening night in our Canadian Tire fold up chairs. The Sheepdogs humbly stated that the last time they had played in Burlington in a bar, they played to “zero” people. So they played with talent and might and thanked the crowd of thousands for coming out to Spencer Smith Park for the festival. Their music was original, lots of guitar, rhythm, at some points I felt there was some Doors influences, sometimes Zeppelin, but it was all their own sound and very enjoyable. Thursdays are opening night, and the BEST night to go, because the bands are usually some of the better ones, and it is not too crowded…people are very respectful and leave each other alot of space to enjoy the concert on the lawn, even among thousands. The Sheepdogs were understated with their beards and plaid shirts, they would probably blend in with a crowd. But up on stage with guitars in hand, they were unbelieveably talented, totally rocking the show. My friend Tanya and I really enjoyed their energy which seemed to exceed the expectations of the crowd.

Don't let the Dixie hat fool ya. The Walkervilles were entertaining and handsome. Sound of Music 2014, photo by Paula Erskine

Don’t let the Dixie hat fool ya. The Walkervilles were entertaining and handsome. Sound of Music 2014, photo by Paula Erskine

The Walkervilles did not dissapoint in their slim suits and cool vibe. They suitably preceded Smokey Robinson look and sound alike singer Jarvis Church who has had his share of hits. Photo by Paula Erskine

The Walkervilles did not dissapoint in their slim suits and cool vibe. They suitably preceded Smokey Robinson look and sound alike singer Jarvis Church who has had his share of hits. Photo by Paula Erskine

Jarvis Church soul singing  at Burlington's Sound of Music Festival 2014. Photographed by Alexis Lagos of www.lacedupimagery.com

Jarvis Church soul singing at Burlington’s Sound of Music Festival 2014. Photographed by Alexis Lagos of http://www.lacedupimagery.com

I also had a chance to witness Jarvis Church in an intimate concert at the Burlington City Hall on Brant Street. He is still looking smooth with his backup singers in slim, shiny suits. He looks alot like a young Smoky Robinson and it such a chillaxed performer. He sounds as good as ever, and we found seats easily not too far from the small stage. Yes Jarvis Church had his day, but he is still truly talented, and I would rather listen to his motown, upbeat, groovy sound than alot of talentless, electronic noise radio stations are paid to play repeatedly polluting our air waves and preventing a variety of great sound and real voices to be enjoyed. I enjoy many different genres of music, I like them shuffled about, old and new, but quality should always be the goal. Anyone who enjoys the “happy style” of music made famous by Sinatra and more recently, Michael Buble, should definately check out Jarvis Church, who appeared somewhere inbetween. Jarvis is looking fine, and still singing his soulful tunes, old and new, and has a feel good intention he generates through song.

Gord Downie's descent into madness after being Tragically hip for so long. The Sadies accompanying him are not to blame, only the terrible sound mixer and unlistenable singing. Sound of Music Festival 2014, photo by Paula Erskine

Gord Downie’s descent into madness after being Tragically hip for so long. The Sadies accompanying him are not to blame, only the terrible sound mixer and unlistenable singing. Sound of Music Festival 2014, photo by Paula Erskine

Saturday was just insanely busy, impossible to get from one end of the park to the other with any sort of speed. Bathroom lineups were long, the park was fenced off so you couldn’t just escape, you had to go through a giant crowd along the lake for anyone to exit. Having said that, I thought that Gord Downie and the Sadies (Gord of the Tragically Hip) would have been a good choice. I don’t know if it was partially the sound mixer’s fault for that west end stage, but the more intimate stage was impossible to get close to, because the sound was horribly distorted and loud even at the furthest point. Further to our collective disappointment, Gordie warbled, burbled, like a crow, for about 2 or 3 songs, pretended to polish his shoes with his handkerchief, wore a too small jacket, and impressed us not. It was so bad, we left. I am sure the Sadies are quite good, but I could not hear them too well over the crow caws. Maybe he thought he was the singer from Midnight Oil, a want to be. But it was unlistenable. My friend Alexis who had a chance to see Sloan, said, the should have fired the sound mixer for the west end stage. Even Sloan was not sounding so great…she really felt the sound was “off.”

Sound of Music? 2014

Tupper Ware Remix Party revel in their annonymity here. Makes for an interesting photo I suppose. Perhaps they have joined us from another planet. Mork from Ork would approve. When did music get so complicated? Oh ya, maybe it was Kiss.

Sunday the finale, I finally dragged my husband back to the festival (after Saturday’s devastating impact) to watch Ashley MacIsaac, famed fiddle player, to rock the Burlington City Hall on Brant Street. What a following he has, because it was absolutely packed in the square, and his music was oozing wonderful tunes and drawing people in all over Brant street. Ashley MacIsaac healed all of us, and renewed our faith in good music. He had a standing ovation to which he humbly obliged. Terrific show, no antics, just love of music being shared into the atmosphere.

I said goodbye to everyone, and headed down to see Trooper in the main park. I was surrounded by chilled adults of a certain age, and we thoroughly enjoyed listening to the hits we grew up with. I always enjoy the final few concerts of Sound of Music. Sunday rocks of course, but usually they are comebackers from the 70’s, 80’s and in this case, the 90’s. The singer compensated any unachievable notes by holding the microphone a little further away to blend in to the background music. We all knew the words anyway. Originally from British Columbia, it was nice to hear they still rock. The long and grey haired keyboardist had a a very hip black button down shirt from the back, which lay open to reveal a tie dyed t-shirt and rosy cheeks as he played a magnificent medley solo. And they invited fans to come meet them again after the show, just like old times. You can tell that they totally enjoyed themselves on stage. That is what makes a great show.

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Categories: Best Parks, Best Sunsets, Canada Day Trips, Free Burlington Activities and Festivals, Free Concerts, Money Matters While Travelling

Author:Stylish Stewy/Ask A Flight Attendant

A former plus size model and flight attendant reflects on an inner journey on this earth worth exploring.

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