Local blues favourites rock Fall Fair

Garrett Mason Band impresses Bridge Street.

A tantalizing double-dose of soothing folk and energetic blues-rock lit up Bridge Street last weekend as Ray Legere’s Kitchen Party and the Garrett Mason Band delivered powerful back-to-back performances. Kicking off this year’s Tantramarsh Blues Society lineup, both groups brought their own array of sounds and selections that had audience members cheering and dancing long into the night.

Originating from Truro, NS, the Garrett Mason Band has been hailed for their compelling stage presence and thorough mastery of the blues and rock genres, a reputation that they upheld on Saturday night with a solid, three-hour delivery of incredible music. Ranging from upbeat, solo-heavy songs to cool, vocal-driven swing numbers, the Garrett Mason Band had nearly the entire audience on their feet within three songs. 

Armed with a faded green hollow body guitar, his trademark ivy cap, and an immeasurable wealth of musical technique, frontman Garrett Mason impressed onlookers with his skillful finger-picking and phenomenal rhythm section. Opening with a song whose lyrics insisted “rock and roll will never die” – no, not a Neil Young cover – the band treated the packed Bridge Street tent to a performance that spanned many varieties of blues, jazz, and rock music.

Mason’s playing style invoked raunchy Texas blues like Stevie Ray Vaughan, while maintaining a classic rock and roll sound and persona that was reminiscent of Jimi Hendrix. Each song featured a barrage of tasteful licks and bluesy vocals, while hinging upon a strong, central riff that held it all together. 

Towards the end of the night, the headliner’s energy did not falter in the slightest. Mason changed things up by switching to a distorted pedal steel guitar mid-song, demonstrating his versatility as a performer. The band gladly returned for an encore performance, stringing together two final songs that concluded the evening on the same lively note that it started.

While Garrett Mason himself was truly the core of the evening’s performances, their set could have been improved if the other talented band members had more of a chance to shine. Although the group has seen the recent addition of conga drums to Mason’s ensemble, allowing this newcomer more than a single drum solo during the evening would have given the performance some much-needed diversity. No one will doubt the potency of Mason’s guitar skills, but the sharing of solos with the rhythm section is a trademark blues practice that could have been better represented.

Before the headliner group performed, the audience was treated to a comforting opening set by Ray Legere’s Kitchen Party, a Celtic and bluegrass group from Sackville. Headed by Ray Legere on fiddle and mandolin, the band combined country and Celtic influences with feel-good, heartwarming lyrics, exemplifying the spirit of Maritimes folk music. 

Most audience members remained seated for Ray Legere’s set in order to take in the truly comforting sounds of thise group’s music. Some of their songs appealed to the audience’s regional sentiments, with lyrics like “we sailed back to the heart of l’Acadie” firmly situating the listener in a Maritime context. 

Other numbers took it up a notch and showcased Legere’s virtuosic mastery of the fiddle, especially towards their last few songs. Over a gradually quickening backdrop of guitar, banjo and bass, Legere’s captivating fiddle solos elicited whoops and cheers from the crowd, preparing the audience for Garrett Mason’s high-energy performance that was to follow. 

The Tantramarsh Blues Society’s next event will feature the Larry McCray Band, all the way from Michigan, at George’s Roadhouse on Oct. 25.  

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