by Laura Feeney

One of my most anticipated performances in the Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival line-up was British Columbia’s Said the Whale. I’ve been hoping to catch them live ever since I discovered their music on Ride the Tempo in 2010. With Said the Whale being one of the three Canadian groups taking the Barrack’s stage on Saturday, I decided to check out the whole line-up.

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Shaun LeBlanc [Photo: Scott Greer]

The Festival’s Galaxie Rising Star Competition winner, Shaun LeBlanc of Moncton, New Brunswick, opened the Barrack’s stage. I arrived halfway through his heartfelt performance and was impressed to find that the swelling crowd singing along to his piano-focused set. The 29-year-old singer/songwriter shared emotion-filled stories through lyrics undoubtedly close to his heart. His performance included a peek at his upbeat new songs. I look forward to seeing more from this Rising Star.

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Said the Whale [Photo: Scott Greer]

Said the Whale kicked off their set with an electric rendition of ‘Out on the Shield’ – one of my favourite tracks thanks to its catchy harmonies and guitar hooks. Their cool, metro look suited the band’s pop-rock sound. The set-list featured old favourites and new tracks from the 2012 release ‘Little Mountain’, to which the audience both sang and clapped along.

Audience favourites included their hit ‘Camilo (the magician)’, the charming new pop-ballad ‘Loveless’, and ‘Goodnight Moon’ featuring Tyler Bancroft on ukulele. They followed exciting climatic moments with slow, emotional interludes, including stories about of inspiration ranging from family to geeky historical references. To close their set, the audience joined in as they sang the appropriate refrain “What a fine life we are living.”

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Wintersleep [Photo: Scott Greer]

Wintersleep was the Barracks headliner, performing for a well-packed tent of very cold Harvest-goers. The Halifax band received a friendly welcome as they launched into an enthusiastic rendition of ‘Hum’. Their rock sound and youthful vocals pierced the cold night, gaining momentum as the performance progressed. Their popular song ‘Weighty Ghost’ was particularly well received, and the crowd moved along as lead guitarist Paul Murphy rocked some thrilling solos.

For more photos at the Barracks Tent on Saturday night, check out the slideshow: