Saturday was yet another busy day at NXNE, with plenty of big name acts taking over Yonge-Dundas Square. While big name acts like Portugal. The Man, Of Montreal and Flaming Lips played Yonge-Dundas Square, more rootsy acts were playing the smaller venues west of there.
A pleasant surprise awaited anyone who entered the tiny back-room Free Times Café. Graham Nicholas, joined by Raven Shields on backing vocals and Julia Stead on drums, strummed through some sweet folk-country tracks, including a fitting and stunning cover of the Loretta Lynn & Conway Twitty track ‘After the Fire is Gone’. Watch Nicholas and Shields perform ‘Blue Bird’ below, complete with whistling.
Following up after Nicholas was Katie Murphy, whose voice reminds you of Janis Joplin, which is definitely a good thing. Joined by JD Edwards, the pair turned the volume up just slightly on a number of heartfelt duets, some of which featured great harmonica work. Check out the photos in the gallery above.
The biggest draw of the night –that wasn’t sponsored by AOL and Spinner.ca and held under the shadow of towering billboards– was The Lumineers at The Horseshoe. A huge line-up was a fixture at Queen and Spadina all weekend long and Saturday night was no different. The waiting masses were there with good reason, as The Lumineers have been picking up steam with fans and critics alike after releasing their debut earlier this year, which I reviewed kindly here. A set which included many great tracks, audibly known to many in the crowd, reached its climax during a boistrous performance of ‘Ho, Hey’, which you can view below. Although I’m sure being featured in a commercial for Bing has gone a fair ways in bringing that particular song, and the band as a whole, added fans, they stand on their own as a solid group of musicians.