Attendees at the thirteenth annual Burnaby Blues and Roots Festival were treated to another sandals and shorts day at the park this weekend, with over eight hours of foot-tapping, smile-inducing live music.
About 3,500 people turned out to Deer Lake Park on Saturday to soak up the sounds of eight different groups on two stages and crowd around the water station to re-hydrate and enjoy a spray of cold water.
"The weather's perfect, the location's perfect, everyone seems to be having a good time... I'm enjoying myself," said Burnaby resident Colin Megannety, who was back at the festival after being impressed by k.d. lang's headlining performance last year.
Kicking things off was Vancouver-based rock band No Sinner, which drew the first eager fans to the garden stage to hear lead singer Colleen Rennison belt out a few blues-rock numbers.
Following their set was another local group, The Washboard Union, who entertained the growing crowd with their seven-piece sound, including the requisite washboard.
"This is about the most beautiful place you can imagine to play music," one band member commented between songs. "Aren't we lucky to be here on such a gorgeous day?"
Sitting on the grass in the shade with his young daughter and two nieces, Vancouver resident Dennis Dion couldn't help but agree.
"It's amazing," he said of the festival. "It's affordable, family-friendly, and it's relaxed."
Dion said he enjoys the natural setting next to the lake, and being able to take his young charges to the kids arts centre to build model guitars with material courtesy of ABC Recycling.
Further down on the sloped grass in front of the main stage, a sea of lawn chairs and blankets was set up where festival-goers sat languidly enjoying the sunshine and a down-tempo performance by Meshell Ndegeocello.
While the tunes carried throughout the park, many people filled the merchants tent to check out the wares for sale by local artisans.
One of these, Tom Wray, had a few of his handmade guitars on display.
The Burnaby-based craftsman has made guitars for several high-profile musicians, including Montreal-based award winning rocker Sam Roberts.
When a festival-goer admired the guitars, but lamented the fact that he's left-handed, Wray quickly assured him he could craft a "leftie" at no extra cost than a regular guitar.
This was Wray's fourth year at the Burnaby festival.
While he rarely sells any of his specialty guitars on site, he said the marketing opportunity is excellent.
"It's been really busy," he said, handing out another business card. "Usually by the end of the day I can hardly talk."
It certainly didn't hurt when two members of The Washboard Union showed up to perform an impromptu duet with the guitars, and drew an appreciative crowd of attendees in the merchants' tent.
Back at the main stage, Amadou and Mariam, an Afro-blues duo with a funky African sound were heating things up.
Dragon flies swooped over a sea of glistening bodies in front of the stage as the band kicked up the energy a few more notches.
"It's not Blues and it's not Roots, but I like it," said Megannety, sitting in his lawn chair.
Strumming the first few notes of each song on a gold guitar, Amadou asked the audience, "Do you feel alive? Are you ready? Let's go," to which the audience eagerly responded in the affirmative.
For Burnaby resident David Handelman, who attends the Blues Festival most years, this group was the highlight of the day.
"They had a really good beat. It was just a lot of fun, and that's what a music festival is all about," he said, after shaking hands with a couple of the band members after their set, thanking them for their energetic performance.
Back once more at the garden stage, people flocked to hear Kelly Joe Phelps give a solid solo performance as the sun was sinking behind the trees, and then it was back to the main stage for the final two performances.
Jimmie Vaughn impressed with his quick-fingered electric guitar skills; even perfecting a lengthy solo with his Fender Stratocaster behind his head.
Stealing the spotlight was special guest Lou Ann Barton, with the Tilt-A-Whirl Band.
She crooned several true Blues numbers with Vaughn backing her up on guitar, while audience members at the stage waved their hands in the air.
By the time the headliners, the Indigo Girls finally took the stage, the sun was gone and the trees were glowing in the floodlights, creating an intimate feel around the stage.
Playing some new and some classic songs from their repertoire, the Girls took a while to connect with the audience, but were handsomely backed up by their touring band, The Shadowboxers, who were given the stage for a number of their own that rocked the house.
After every song, the truly Southern band thanked the audience with a "Thanks, y'all!" to which a cheerful audience member responded, "You're welcome, eh!"
Finishing off their set, the Girls polished off a fitting cover of Bob Dylan's Tangled Up In Blue as festival-goers packed up their lawn chairs to head home and await the announcement of next year's lineup.