Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, St. Paul & The Broken Bones, Rich Aucoin, Wilco, Royal Canoe, Passenger, NQ Arbuckle, Lucinda Williams, Jim Bryson, The Strumbellas, The River & The Road, The Elwins & and Julian Taylor Band @ Toronto Urban Roots Festival 9/19/2015

Day 2 of the Toronto Urban Roots Festival  was forecasted to be rainy but that didn’t affect the spirits or the turnout of the attendees at the festival.

I arrived in time to see Julian Taylor Band, a fantastic rhythm and blues band from Toronto playing the West stage. The promoters were committed to opening the stages each day with a local band. Pop masters The Elwins held that honour over on the East stage playing fan favourites like “Forgetful Assistance” and “Bubble”.

I caught some of indie-rockers The River & The Road jamming at the South hill before catching Juno Award winners The Strumbellas back at the West stage. Frontman Simon Ward came out with skeleton facepaint like he had joined the Insane Cloud Posse or something.

While we watched Jim Bryson it started to rain heavily, right after he made a joke about it not raining. I blame Jim Bryson for the rain but at the same time, we enjoyed watching him from afar as we hid in the beer tent having a beer. The crowd that braved the rain swayed to the music with great joy like the music was making them invincible.

Lucinda Williams wasn’t really my thing but I caught a few songs before heading to see the critically acclaimed NQ Arbuckle. TURF is a weird festival, the music isn’t something I would regularly listen to but if you are open to appreciating it for the 3 days, it is a lot of fun.

I think my secret TURF crush was Passenger. English singer-songwriter Michael David Rosenberg was just so damn charming. His set was a mixture of guitar songs and comedic stage banter that made light of everything including the frequently passing GO Train that could be heard in the distance. I could’ve listened to him talk all day.

Before hitting the big stage for Wilco, I warmed up with the indie popsters Royal Canoe. Wilco dug into all their catalogue favourites like “Heavy Metal Drummer”, “Box Full of Letters” and “Handshake Drugs”. There was also some dipping into the new album Star Wars. 

Even though I only saw Rich Aucoin the previous night, I saw him again play the South stage with Choir! Choir! Choir! singing along to all his songs. Aucoin interacted with everyone in the area, even making the effort to run up and down the hill to encourage all the crowd to participate. I actually meant to leave his set in the middle to see Cake but dude, you can never leave a Rich Aucoin set. It’s mentally impossible.

Like I said a billion times already TURF is about discovering things that you didn’t think you’d appreciate and St. Paul & The Broken Bones was definitely one of those band. I hadn’t previously heard of them but I was convinced by my fellow photographer Stephen McGill to stay. And boy was I glad to. The Birmingham, Alabama soul band led by Paul Janeway was electric to watch. The frontman had so much swagger as he made sweet musical love to the mic.

I ended my night with Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, my first time seeing the band, even though we’ve covered him here at multiple festivals this year. Lead singer Alex Ebert wore a Jesus-like persona often interacting with the crowd like he was some kind of Messiah. I found his voice a little bit weak for the day but he did explain he wasn’t at his best. All was forgiven as he continually touched the crowd and even lifted little kids on stage at some point! (Did I mention TURF is an incredible festival to bring your kids?).

Rain couldn’t kill this day 2 of TURF for sure.