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Barenaked Ladies cap rocking second day at Blues Fest (60 Photos)

Record crowd takes in the fun, which included impressive sets from the likes of the Powder Blues Band, Alan Doyle and Barney Bentall.

THUNDER BAY – The Barenaked Ladies know how to throw a late-night party.

With the help of Alan Doyle and Barney Bentall, the Toronto alternative rockers capped a second straight spectacular day of music at the 2017 Thunder Bay Blues Festival, offering up a career-spanning cross-section of their catalogue that had the crowd begging for more when the show finally wrapped up a minute after midnight on Sunday morning.

The highlight, to no one’s surprise, was the band’s signature song, If I had $1,000,000, which saw Bentall, Doyle and his Band of Beautiful Gypsies sashay back on stage for a rip-roaring performance of the song, which shot the band to fame in 1993.

Though shy on songs from that album, Gordon – the crowd-pleasing Brian Wilson did make the set list – the Barenaked Ladies didn’t disappoint, digging out gems like Odds Are, Alcoholic, One Week and of course, the full version of the Big Bang Theory Theme, that drew a raucous applause from the record crowd that overran Marina Park on Saturday night.

Featuring Ed Robertson on lead vocals – Steven Page being eight years removed from the band – Jim Creegan on bass, Kevin Hearn on guitar and Tyler Stewart on drums, the playful foursome mostly managed to live up to expectations, despite hitting the stage more than an hour late – through no fault of their own.

They even rapped a little about a Thunder Bay landmark.

“I’m rocking out at the Hoito,” screamed Stewart. “When I’m in Thunder Bay and I’m hungry, I know where to go.”

The sentiment amused Robertson.

“It’s a blues festival. That doesn’t sound like a hard time. I haven’t heard a blues song about starting your day with delicious pancakes, then going back for more pancakes,” he said.

“What did you have to have the blues? Did they not have real maple syrup?”

If the Barenaked Ladies were the highlight of the night, Doyle came a close second. The former Great Big Sea front-man has long been a Blues Festival favourite and did not fail to live up to expectations, mixing slew of his solo offerings with sing-a-long hits from his former band, including Ordinary Day, which had 8,000 or so singing in unison. There was a also a guest appearance by Robertson.

Bentall, who hadn’t been in Thunder Bay since the early Chretien years, was a welcome catch for festival organizers, along with afternoon acts Lighthouse and the Powder Blues Band, a group that formed before man walked on the moon and is still going strong today.

The afternoon began with local favourites Boardroom Gypsies, fearing Nancy Hamilton on lead vocals.

A flight delay meant Jack Semple was next up, followed by Angel Forrest, who spontaneously found herself in the crowd as she tore through Me and Bobby McGee, a song written by Kris Kristofferson and made famous by Janis Joplin.

Forrest felt the vibe.

“You know it when you’re an artist if people are into it,” she said. “If they’re not, you tend to mouse away, you tend to back off and not perform as well. But when the crowd gives you the love and is open to you, it makes for the best performance, because you give it your all.”

Rain threatened to put a damper on the fun, but cleared up in time for the evening acts.

Rain or shine, there was no way Myra Makie Coons, was going to miss a second of the action.

“I love it,” she said. “This is the 16th one I’ve been at … It’s the music, the camaraderie, the whole venue, it’s just totally awesome.”

The festival continues on Sunday, featuring headliner Randy Bachman.



Leith Dunick

About the Author: Leith Dunick

A proud Nova Scotian who has called Thunder Bay home since 2002, Leith has been the editor of Thunder Bay Source for 18 years and has served a similar role with TBNewsWatch.com since 2009. Twitter: @LeithDunick
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