John K. Samson at Brandon Folk Fest. 7.24.16

By Regina Sienra

Brandon, Man., just witnessed the closest thing to a The Weakerthans reunion there has been since the split of the staple Winnipeg band was made official. John K. Samson was joined by drummer Jason Tait and bassist Greg Smith for the headlining set at the 32nd annual Brandon Folk, Music and Art Festival.

The three Weakerthans members were joined by Rusty Matyas, who has supported both The Weakerthans and Samson as a solo act. The always humble and shyly breathtaking Samson greeted the Brandon Folk Fest audience, mentioning this was the first time in 25 years he was playing there.  

The set had a massive start with “One Great City!” Samson then played the title track from the third Weakerthans album, Reconstruction Site. As it happens in many festivals, it takes some children to start a dance party in front of the stage. The upbeat “A New Name for Everything” and “Plea from a Cat Named Virtute” made some grown-ups get up and join the affair.

Samson included a few tracks from his solo LP, Provincial, like “Heart of the Continent”, “Cruise Night” and “When I write my Master’s thesis,” and some new songs like “Vampire Alberta Blues” – for which Shotgun Jimmie came up on stage as a guest –  and “On the 21st day,” which give us hope for a new solo album sometime in the future, although he has been playing these songs at this solo shows for more than a year.

“Sun in an Empty Room,” “Aside” and “Confessions of a Futon Revolutionist” were also part of the brilliant show delivered by Samson and his more-than-guests. With “Left and leaving,” a very intense finale to the main set and “My Favourite Chords” as a beautiful acoustic encore, the now-historic performance may not have given us enough hope to see The Weakerthans together again in the future, but it was a great reminder of those songs that have brought comfort to generations of outsiders, and in doing so have offered a lot of people a place where they do belong.

Thanks to Donna Lowe for making this review possible. Featured image by ShonicaR3 on Instagram 

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155 thoughts on “John K. Samson at Brandon Folk Fest. 7.24.16

  1. Good morning!

    DARBAR (for later!), I learned that if Black Mountain was shifted to Zaphod’s, last week, it wasn’t (as I thought) because they couldn’t fill Ritual, but rather that “there’s a notice on the front door of Ritual saying ‘pay your bills’ “.

    So there you are, there I am… Oh, and Zaphod’s was full, one of the better crowds I’ve seen there: a good show. In addition, you would have liked the openers, Man something: 4 people on drums, 2 on a full kit and 2 others. No other instruments, one 30-minute drum piece. A little slow to change, but it did get interesting.

    Like

  2. Great, Ottawa’s had a cops-on-suspect violence incident. The guy’s critical. Head smashed into pavement repeatedly, according to his brother who saw it from 8 stories up. The person arrested is mentally deficient, according to him. I just learned police tried to collect smartphones (several of them, and apparently there’s a long video.)

    Sounds not very different from other incidents down South. (Of course, there’s a wait-and-see attitude that’s prudent, but at first whiff…)

    Like

  3. reginula got to hear Samson and acolytes! Good for you!

    I remember one year when Danny Michel skyped an entire Black Sheep performance of his for Amanda Putz, who was in (perhaps) Shanghai at the time (husband, Kathleen Edwards’ brother, is with Foreign Affairs). So she listened to it at around 4 in the morning, her time.

    Like

  4. Good morning, and holy smokin’ Sacramento summertime! Looks like we’re in the middle of a string of 100°+ days. Miserable!

    Just found out that my second cousin has a AC/DC / Judas Priest tribute band and I’ve been invited to come see them play – but it’s the same night as The New Pornographers show here in town next month. Isn’t that always the way it is?

    Like

  5. mcff, maybe you can leave the NP show a little early, if the metal band is performing later (which may be likely).

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  6. Tiffy, seen TNP twice, as well as AC Newman twice, and have tickets for this show. Saw them twice at the huge -and gorgeous – Oakland Fox theatre that has a 3000 capacity. But here, a club downtown that probably holds 400. Will not miss it!

    Like

  7. @mcfllyer – I am SOOO jealous. They are one of my absolute faves.
    I have yet to see them with Neko though 😦 I feel like that won’t happen for a long time.

    oh I LOVE small venues. So much better.

    Like

  8. Benoit, second cousin’s band plays in Auburn, about 40 miles away. Alas, don’t think it’s gonna work.

    Like

  9. I really hope it just keeps raining here in Toronto. Woke up to a CRAZY storm at about 4am with tons of thunder and lightening.
    It’s still really muggy here though. I am so sick of this heat. It’s so damn gross. I’m ready for September and fall. I love fall.

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  10. wow, reginula, thanks so much for writing that review! It’s great to have a detailed record of the setlist. It’s almost like you were there 😉

    They actually did a couple more songs after my phone almost died, though: Virtute the Cat Announces Her Departure and…uh, can’t remember the other one. maybe Shonica will.

    Like

  11. Good morning!
    Last night in Brandon was AWESOME!!!!!
    I got to see loweeda and share the JKS and the Winter Wheat concert with her, Reginula via loweeda’s phone (you are a superstar Donna), and the Tarp King too( thanks to him for driving there and back).
    The whole day at Brandon Folk Fest was amazing actually, there is so much talent in this province. I love you Manitoba, my beautiful prairie home.

    Like

  12. Shonica, it was great to see you and Tarp King! I felt bad afterwards if it seemed like I wasn’t offering you a place to stay the night–of course you would have been welcome to, but my spare bedroom only has a single bed in it. that’s a problem I should fix soon.

    Anyway, what a great show that was. do you remember the last song in the encore? I couldn’t.

    Like

  13. Great review! Wish I could have been there!
    Despite the thunderstorm it’s still super humid here too but infinitely easier to deal with than the city, I feel for you tiffy!
    The Tich Maredza Band played Arly on Sat night, they’re from Zimbabwe (3 of the 4 members) but now live in Toronto. The drummer toured with Thomas Mapfumo & played Afrofest years ago when Mike & I saw him. Pretty awesome. Still recovering mind you…

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  14. Loweeda,
    Thanks, we only brought stuff to stay over for if the show went late. We made it home by 12:20 after a quick stop for a jug of coffee for the Tarp King (and timbits)
    Encore song, I honestly can’t remember right now either, I’m a little tired(but happy) today.

    Like

  15. And here’s your video of a young rhinoceros galoomphing around. Name of Warren. Rhinos are made to run.

    Like

  16. Russ 8:55 But you only knew him for 5 seconds, right?

    Shonica, 8:46 Yup, sure-fire cuteness.

    Like

  17. Hi! Hello! Thanks for reading! Thanks to Donna for livestreaming the show for me (THAT MADE MY LIFE) and to Shonica for letting me borrow her picture for the post.

    WEAKERTHAAAANS

    Like

  18. In other news, I’m very confused right now.

    Suuns just announced a show here. As in, Mexico City.

    Like, Suuns. Suuns?!

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  19. Reginula, I missed Suuns the last time they came to Winnipeg I couldn’t go, I think I was out of town or something.

    Like

  20. I got to hear Suuns in perhaps not the best place, St Alban’s Church. Although there was beer, the sound was very good and we could stand — them pews are hard –, it still wasn’t a prime boogieing venue.

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  21. loweeda, I think naming mostly prevents you from eating food with eyes that look at you, all misty-like.

    Thank jeebus sandwiches don’t have eyes.

    Like

  22. I’m interviewing a good American band I just discovered for workwork in a couple hours.
    *Shifty eyes*

    Like

  23. @Tiff Nope! Another, they are called AJJ. They sound like… punkier Arcade Fire.
    (The one I posted about is my current obsession, they are called The Crane Wives. AND THEY RULE)

    Liked by 1 person

  24. good day! Such a great blog post, and how awesome that it happened through the power of mobile devices and friends! When I first started to read it I thought “wow, Reginula is back in Canada? ” Loweeda, you get serious points. 🙂

    Like

  25. No Suuns west coast concerts, hardly any in the US… Hopefully on their next tour they’ll play the Vancouver, Seattle, Portland trio.

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  26. HI Fresh Ginger! Indeed. Loweeda is the best! I was really looking for the way to go to that show but oh, it’s always very expensive. I’m so glad I got to see it. Technology and friends, eh?

    Like

  27. I’m not remotely the best! All I did was hold up my phone!

    And I was too shy to go up too close to the stage to do that, so Regina had to watch it from kind of the front row of chairs (which is luckily where Shonica and Mike were sitting so I could join them). It probably wasn’t the best view, but I hope she could hear it OK.

    Like

  28. @Benoit Nope, she held it with her hand the whole time and it was so still I really thought she had brought a stick for that or something.

    Audio was greaaaat

    Like

  29. Loweeda is the best. End of discussion on that topic. Don’t forget to pick your goodie bags at the table when you leave.

    Like

  30. loweeda, nope you’re wrong, that makes you the best! Nyah!

    Me: out for a while, getting rid of evidence (beer cans) and biking a couple of other errands. Ciao!

    Like

  31. @Loweeda Indeed, you can even pick more than one. Although there’s buttons with your face in them. Hope you don’t find that toooo weird

    Like

  32. Hello!
    Thanks for that comment at 5:41 Benoit! That sounds like a night I would have loved.
    I have a bunch more comments to catch up on but will eventually. Nice article Reginula. I am glad Donna was able to include you in the show.

    Like

  33. Reginula: it would only be weird if i wore one 😉

    PS. I’m listening to AJJ now and they’re alright. they have some bizarre lyrics, though, speaking of weird.

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  34. Glad to hear it reginula!

    FB memories reminded me that I missed Gateway Fest this year and gave me a case of ROMO. There was a pic of JKS yesterday. It was such a great set with just him I can imagine how great it was.

    Like

  35. pellet gun?
    it’s a little mini bullet, but it’s fired by compressed air or a spring instead of gunpowder inside a casing.

    is there something Canadian about pellet guns?

    also, MUR?

    Like

  36. Also, just checked with CBC and the Tragically Hip livestream won’t be geofenced.

    Party at my place or what?

    Like

  37. @Krib I was going to sat ‘MURICA because… guns and angry people. But it’s not a gun-gun. I’ll be over there.

    Like

  38. In pokenews about my sanity or the lack of it, I just rushed out of the office to catch something (._. )

    Like

  39. OK. I am heading out because this heat makes me want to hurt everyone and I should probably be alone for a few hours.

    I am showing my place tonight to two ladies, who on paper seem like they could be good roommates.

    Wish me luck!!

    Like

  40. Oh man, I’m Fomo-ing, or Romo-ing, not sure which, over the fact that I completely BLANKED and forgot Brandon Folk fest was this past weekend! I love that little fest (minus the all night drum circles).
    I would have very much enjoyed a John K. Sampsonite performance. Not to mention the Right Honourable Shotgun Jimmald!
    Among others.

    Like

  41. good luck in your roommate search, tiffy!

    hey Tom, I feel like I could have reminded you about folk fest. Why didn’t I do that? Next year I will, I promise.

    the Right Honourable Shotgun Jimmie was present, and came up to do a hilarious guitar solo on one JKS song. It was great.

    Like

  42. Tom
    So sorry you missed BFF! Damn, you could have come with us yesterday, we had room in the car, as both of my children had planned going to Gimli Film fest.
    I saw the DCBB play and talked to Andrew and Monica afterward. Those guys seem to be playing everywhere this summer! Are you planning to go to RFF.
    Mr. Shotgun Jimmie danced and sang along to all of the JKS songs at the side of the stage until it was his turn to join in for Vampires Alberta Blues. Made me smile. : )

    Like

  43. I should have better prepared myself for Brandon… I just plain forgot! I will try to not forget for next year.

    I wish I could come to RFF too! I feel like I’m overdue for a Regina visit in general.
    Such is life. I gotta run, hope summer is killin’ it wherever you are!

    Like

  44. That’ll be great, DarBar! Being at one of those Hip shows is going to be one of those landmark musical memories, I’m sure.

    ya, it’ll be strange not to be at RFF this year, but I’m trying to focus on Interstellar Rodeo instead, because it’ll be great!

    Like

  45. I am really excited about the next 3 musical weekends and then I go camping for a week after that. Yay!

    My seats for The Hip are like the very last row but we will be there and I am happy about that.

    Like

  46. Wow, so many were out and about this past weekend. it looks like canada’s busiest weekend in music did not disappoint.

    Like

  47. hmmm, my last comment is in the computer abyss …
    I was just saying how cool it is to hear about all of your adventures from this past weekend and how Canada’s busiest weekend in music has not disappointed.

    Like

  48. @tiffy, good luck with the room mate search.
    I just crawled out of a perfectly freezing tub of water after about four hours of yard work. That is how I deal with the heat. Man I love that outdoor tub:)

    Like

  49. @reginula not sure. last week when the power when out it made more sense that i needed to sign back in.

    Like

  50. @reginula remember how last week i noticed that a smaller town over an hour from mine seemed to be scooping the booking that usually come here? Well I phoned the general manager of the local business and we had a good chat. He said he just hasn’t been getting the crowds; Cave Singers were 120 and The Dead South was less than 100. He is going to be at the same festival as me this weekend and wants to talk about who to bring in and how to market. can you say, “in over my head!”

    Like

  51. @Morgana That’s a great example of getting things done and finding answers! Awesome! Get the bucket list ready, I guess? Although, we still need a way to send you back and forth for the shows!

    Like

  52. @reginula, yup i just picked up the phone and introduced myself as a passionate concert goer and what the heck is up with him not booking the music i need! i always have a list in my head of who i would love to hear but the piece around how to get folks into his venue is another story …

    Like

  53. Hi Morgana. Good for you. I get that feeling though. My guy introduces me as some expert on Canadian Indie music to people and then they expect me to have answers for them on the industry. Haha!

    Like

  54. @garfielduk I see posters around town, show listing adverts in the paper and they have a FB site but that is about all that I am aware of. What is CJLY?

    Like

  55. @darbar That is sweet of him:) I just love the music and have all of you to talk with about it. I already feel like I am not on the inside track any more now that R3 is gone (I know it isn’t but it is dead to me) I find it is harder to keep on top of “breaking new sounds”.

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  56. @garfielduk oh! coop radio. nope, two different worlds of music. certainly perceived to be different markets as well.

    Like

  57. I would love to see one of our newspaper reporters do more interviews of upcoming bands to get people talking more. that is rather old fashioned of me to think that people read the paper though.

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  58. @morgana – It is sweet but I am always then telling people that I just am a music lover that listens to a lot of Cdn Indie music. He also tells people that I am a drummer and then I am in fear that they will ask me to play something. Hehe. It is definitely harder to stay on top of things with they way R3 is now. Ugh.

    Like

  59. @darbar I am hoping that when the summer frenzy of fun is over that our peeps will return to the fold here and we can all share our musical finds.

    Like

  60. krib, 3:05 And the blue is closing ranks, “the man was belligerent”, etc.

    Lots of video though, apparently. The truth will out. FWIW

    Like

  61. @garfielduk I love that you stay connected to my wee town by listening to the local radio station 🙂

    Like

  62. @darbar #3905 i was listening to frazy ford in prep for hearing her this coming weekend but i am game! thanks!!

    Like

  63. OK kids, thanks for hanging’. that was a wonderfully restorative lunch and cup o tea but now I must attack the inside of the house. still around but i have dog hair filled dust bunnies to chase … and this playlist of @darbars is just the thing to propel me through it:)

    Liked by 1 person

  64. Someone recommended Common Deer to me the other day. That’s Friday at the Black Sheep, I think I’ll be there.

    Like

  65. @reginula, You interviewed someone from AJJ? Where will the details from that be going? I am just getting into them but my girlfriend is a HUGE fan.

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  66. @sitrucj Hi! I did! it’s for the magazine I work for (Which is in Mexico, and it’ll be in Spanish (._. )) but I’ll keep you posted! I already listened to their new album and it’s amazing! I interviewed Sean, the singer-guitarist I think. He was really nice.

    Liked by 1 person

  67. Hey! Lucked out! Didn’t get over 100° today! Only 99° right now. But tomorrow’s forecast, scorching 106°. That’s 41° in Canadian.

    Like

  68. And trying to be ever so slightly on topic, so glad Peggy and I saw The Weakerthans on two successive nights in San Francisco three years ago.

    Like

  69. @darbar wow, that playlist of yours needs to come with a warning!! that nice andy shauf let me come up for air but other than that i am panting:) the good news is that when you vacuum and mop at twice your regular pace you are done in half the time!

    Liked by 1 person

  70. @mcffler we were a whole 10 degrees less than you and it was plenty for me! any chance your neighbours would let you back into their pool?

    Like

  71. @b from o i read, “come on dear ” … listening now.
    do i detect some banjo o’clock potential?

    Like

  72. @darbar royal canoe is one of the bands that should be playing here but is instead at a smaller room in a smaller town 1.5 hours on the highway from here.
    it is a very cool room. it used to be a fire hall and the pole is still there

    http://www.theflyingsteamshovel.com

    and how do i put links on this page?

    Like

  73. @reg They are! I am tempted to go but it is a couple of hours from me. I can’t wait to hear their new album is going to be rad as heck. 🙂

    Like

  74. @morgana – I do tend to like to rock out. hehe

    That venue looks cool and has some great shows coming up. Too bad it isn’t closer.

    Like

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