Bluesfest Day Four: JOHNNYSWIM, High Valley, and P!nk

Bluesfest continues rain or shine, and under Sunday’s torrential downpour, the fourth night of the festival came out stronger than the previous nights.

Before the rain began to fall, a small group of fans gathered in front of the Claridge Homes stage to take in a sentimental performance by JOHNNYSWIM. The duo, who first met in Nashville and started writing songs together in 2005, have been married since 2009.

The husband-wife dynamic of singer Amanda Sudano Ramirez and singer-guitarist Abner Ramirez created a unique, stripped-down, and soulful atmosphere. The couple did not need the support of any backup musicians, as they were able to deliver an energetic and exciting performance on their own.

Almost immediately after JOHNNYSWIM’s set, the rain started falling over the grounds at Lebreton Flats. While some festival-goers found shelter in the Canadian War Museum’s lobby, others went to the sheltered Bluesville stage to take in a performance by Slam Allen.

Allen warmed up the densely-packed crowd with his classic blues voice and his skilled and improvised guitar solos. Allen’s backup band helped make his solos stand out by modifying their tempo and volume to match his playing style.

As the evening progressed, the rain stopped, the sun came back out, and the timing was perfect for the beginning of High Valley’s performance.

Brothers Brad and Curtis Rempel from La Crete, Alta., brought their high-energy and cheerful style of country music to a crowd which they describe as the largest they had ever had. Through their upbeat songs, such as “Young Forever” and “She’s With Me,” the duo got the crowd clapping and stomping their feet throughout the entire show.

Partway through, the brothers slowed things down for a bit to perform “A Father’s Love (The Only Way He Knew How).” Sitting on stools, they dedicated the song and the entire show to their father, who has supported their musical endeavours since the beginning.

Dazzling the crowd at the City Stage and capping off the night was P!nk. After taking time off from touring to focus on raising her family, P!nk’s Bluesfest performance was only her third live show in nearly four years. That was not evident, as she dominated the stage with her iconic voice and her formidable presence.

Every time she took the microphone, P!nk’s enthusiastic fans sang almost every word along with her and sang loud, as she performed her many well-know hits such as “Try,” “Raise Your Glass,” and “Just Give Me a Reason.” When the rain came back halfway through an acoustic performance of “Fuckin’ Perfect,” and people scrambled to put on ponchos and open their umbrellas, the singing only got more passionate.

During what was already a very special evening, P!nk surprised the crowd by inviting Canadian singer-songwriter Dallas Green to the stage. Known by most music fans as City and Colour, Green joined P!nk to play some beautifully harmonized songs from their 2014 side-project You+Me.

The concert ended on a literal high note, as P!nk took flight with an aerial acrobatic performance of her 2008 number one hit “So What.”

Powering through the elements, P!nk raised the bar at Bluesfest by exceeding previously unimagined expectations.

Photo credits: Meagan Casalino