For those of you that have been following this blog for a while now, this entry may be coming as somewhat of a surprise. It does not exactly fit into the rest of the posts on this site at all. Rest assured you are not alone. There have been more than a small number of comments thrown my way since revealing that I would be attending the Craven Country Jamboree just outside of Regina, Saskatchewan.
Rightfully so too. I have never tried to hide the fact that of all genres out there, Country would be my least favorite. On the contrary, I have voiced my displeasure about the subject more times than is possible to count going back as far back as I can remember.
So what then, would draw a loud and proud metalhead rocker to a 5 day country music festival?
2 words: Brody Siebert.
Brody is a friend of mine I met while I was working in Saskatoon. Myself being a producer & him being an up and coming singer/songwriter we were introduced to each other by his cousin whom I was working with at the time. Having a shared deep-seeded love of music we instantly hit it off and have been buddies ever since.
So when my buddy asks if I would like to join him and his band at a 5 day festival they’re playing at, the answer was a resounding yes. I always support my friends, especially when they are as talented as Brody and his band Thirty Ought Six. Seriously people keep your ears to the ground for this act. They are going places.
So there you have it. My indoctrination into something far outside of my comfort zone was about to begin. Actually to be fair, music festivals are exactly my comfort zone so it wasn’t THAT far out of it.
Whatever, let’s not worry about semantics. Let’s get a little country shall we?
I’ll tell ya one thing having completed my first year at Craven, I could not be happier that I accepted my friend’s invitation. Craven is a good goddamn time!
The Jamboree welcomes almost 25,000 people per day, although the majority of the attendees stay and camp for the entire (or most of the) weekend. Patrons tend to share their time between the 2 stages; the Beer Garden stage and the Main stage. Outside the entrance to the Main stage is the closest thing to a strip mall you will find in a remote prairie field in Saskatchewan. Set up fairly well with multiple vendors throughout, one has no problem to grab a hot coffee 1st thing in the morning to help shake off the rust from the previous night’s events. Need to fill the void? There was everything from Venice House to Booster Juice and Subway to cater to your stomach’s needs. A very nice surprise indeed.
There was also a bank of ATMs set up for those that didn’t plan a sufficient bankroll coming in. I, for one, was one of them.
Given that Craven takes place right in the heat of July, ice becomes a premium. Thankfully they not only have a couple refrigerated semi trailers stocked with ice you may visit to restock, but also pickup trucks that make their rounds through the entire campground to help those in need.
Now, let’s get into the general camping here for a minute….
I was lucky enough to stay with Brody and the boys close to the stages. Hoewever there were multiple occasions when 1 or a few of us would venture off into the general campground for whatever reasons. If you did not know EXACTLY where your destination was, God help your soul….
There was absolutely no rhyme nor reason as to how this label-less labyrinth was laid out. At least it didn’t seem so to me. Nor did it seem so to absolutely ANYONE I asked on any occasion, and there were a few, that I was lost and in need of direction.
I am in now way being sarcastic here. One morning a friend and I spent over 2 hours wandering the grounds looking for some elusive space that somehow my phone managed to land at the night prior. Not a single person we asked could point us in the proper direction. Not even security. It may as well have been in fuckin Narnia.
Craven, PLEASE, put just a little more thought(or any at all for that matter) into how the campground is laid out in years to come.
Sorry I’m getting worked up. After 2+ hours we ended up finding said phone and celebrating with multiple very strongly mixed drinks to get our day started right. Because that’s what you do at 7:30 AM on a Friday morning.
Yeah, our search started very early that day.
Overall I would call the weekend an overwhelming success. Aside from watching Brody and the boys absolutely kill it all weekend on the Beer Garden stage, I was able to take in quite a few acts that I normally would not have. One such act that really sticks out for me was Friday’s headliners, Florida Georgia Line. From what I gather the FGL boys take a lot of flack from both critics and the country music scene alike. Whether it be for their brand of music, the way they represent themselves, or any number of factors I couldn’t tell ya. What I can tell ya is this; I went in completely blind to what was coming and I left thoroughly impressed. These guys rocked the joint.
A brief but severe torrent of rain rolled through Saturday afternoon threatening the remainder of the day’s events. While it was a nice reprieve from the stifling heat we had been experiencing up to that point, it did make for an incredibly muddy rest of the weekend. It was the thick, suffocating kind of mud that makes the simple act of walking next to impossible in places. It also made for some pretty funny and entertaining people watching Sunday morning.
An act or 2 did get cancelled mid-afternoon Saturday but the big names were able to get their time in that night which included the headliner Blake Shelton. While not quite as uptempo as FGL the night before, Blake put on a great set showcasing both his talent and general likability. The crowd was certainly not displeased.
After Brody’s set Sunday afternoon I had to depart so I was not able to catch Sunday night’s events though I’m sure it was probably a great time as most everything else that weekend was.
In closing, Craven was an absolute blast, even for a headbanger like myself. I am ever grateful to Brody and Thirty Ought Six for both the invitation and the hospitality shown to me all weekend as well as for giving me the opportunity to broaden my musical horizons. It was a weekend I will not soon forget and am already looking forward to next year!