T+L-Fest entices community with games, local music

Bar hosts Thus Owls and guest performances.

Sackville locals kicked back, relaxed, and raised their glasses for featured musicians at T+L-Fest this past weekend.

From Sept. 5 to Sept. 7, Thunder & Lightning hosted local musicians and games for attendees of all ages to enjoy. T+L-Fest is a music festival at its essence and featured performers of varying genres from near and far.

Friday night featured BMP & Red, a hip-hop duo from Sackville. The group has released four albums in total, including their latest album, 2 Motherfuckers, released on March 1. Their six-song set showed off the duo’s jazz influences.

Of all the shows at T+L-Fest, BMP & Red generated the most energy from the audience. When the show opened, most people were merely sitting with a drink in hand, tapping their feet or nodding their heads to the beat; but after the first few songs, most of the audience had been brought to their feet. The performance shook the foundations of the establishment, as was evident by the positive and lively response of those in attendance. The energy continued after the show with open karaoke.

Saturday was the busiest day for T+L-Fest, with the the line-up featuring Henry Adam Svec, Michael Feuerstack, and Thus Owls.

Henry Adam Svec studied English literatures at Mount Allison University, and it was here in Sackville that he developed a love for folk music. He has a particular interest in Canadian folklore, and often uses these traditions as inspiration for his material.

Svec performed songs created with the assistance of LIVINGSTON, a computer program designed by Svec and Czech programmer Mirek Plíhal that uses digital algorithms and an archive of Canadian folk songs to generate new, unique songs. The creators of this project describe it as an “artificially intelligent digital organism capable of accessing the totality of Canadian folk music” because it makes new songs with the information it collects. Svec had a part in creating LIVINGSTON and has recorded an album, Artificially Intelligent Folk Songs of Canada, Vol. 1, with the songs that LIVINGSTON had made.

Svec’s show felt very intimate and connected with the audience. A simple mix of guitar, accordion, harmonica, and vocals from both Svec and El Ron Maltan created a relaxed environment for guests. It was easy to see the passion that went into his work as he would often stop in between songs and explain his creative process and what LIVINGSTON’s songs meant for him.

Michael Feuerstack’s performance on Saturday night brought a very mellow atmosphere. It was just him and his guitar, playing some soft tunes on a dimly-lit stage. The dim lights made it harder to see his face, but that just added to the overall mood of the performance. Feuerstack attempted to establish a close connection with the audience by taking requests throughout the evening, and encouraged show-goers to approach and chat with him after the show.

“It feels like coming home,” Feuerstack said, referring to his performances in the Maritimes. He spent most of his early years in Moncton before moving to Ottawa, and eventually to Montreal where he lives now.

Saturday’s festivities ended with Thus Owls, a Montreal-based band that originated in Sweden. The band has five members, but only two of them, husband and wife duo Erika and Simon Angell, appeared to play at the bar.

Thus Owls’ sound can be described as chilling, haunting, soothing, and soulful, sending listeners on an emotional journey. Erika’s rich voice, decorated with reverb effects, was very soft one moment and then belting the next.

Thus Owls performed songs from their most recent album, Turning Rocks, which was released in April. The songs were inspired by stories that Erika’s grandmother had told her during her childhood. As both Erika and her grandmother grew up in the same house, these stories held a particular significance because they involved a familiar physical setting but an unfamiliar temporal setting. Erika said that the songs convey the message that “time always repeats itself,” and that she feels connected to her grandmother’s stories, even though she didn’t personally experience them. They also wrote a song specifically for their tour of Atlantic Canada and even called Michael Feuerstack back to the stage to perform a song together.

Other performers at T+L-Fest included El Ron Maltan, Leah Garnet, and Jerry Ropson.

There were games for guests of all ages to enjoy at the festival, including washer toss, darts, and bowling.

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