A mix of veteran attendees, past Island dwellers and acts from years ago congregated this weekend at the Wolfe Island Music Festival (WIMF), bringing the sleepy community of Marysville to life.
Lining up for the ferry Friday evening, the anticipation was electric in the air. The much-discussed Kingston band AOK was set to grace the stage of St. Margaret’s Hall, one of four venues, while AroarA and Buck 65 would play the General Wolfe Hotel later that evening.
Everyone goes to WIMF with different expectations and motives, but one thing is for sure – everyone is there for the love of music.
The 7 p.m. ferry was packed with showgoers. Families toted sleeping bags along with their children. Obvious first-time “WIMFers” laughed giddily and hung over the edge of the boat, overjoyed with the possibility of experiencing a festival so widely acclaimed across the country.
Our ferry approached the dock, sailboats from cottage-owners came into sight and we found ourselves heading up in a pack towards the main gate where the music could be found.
We received our passes and took a seat in the grass and, despite a few red ant bites, we waited patiently for Afie, known by his stage name Bahamas, to come out.
Despite being familiar with Afie’s music, I’d never seen him live. I had no idea what to expect, and was surprised when he took a move that isn’t common – he opened with a cover.
The cover was of Bobby Womack’s song "Please Forgive My Heart". Afie’s soulful blues guitar and deep, clear voice pierced through the setting sun, while his two back-up female singers crooned behind him.
He moved with his guitar like it was another limb as heavy bass riffs ripped through "Caught Me Thinking", after which he mused out loud, “Any day where I can wear my bathing suit for 16 hours is a good day … and I nailed it.”
With a hint of reggae in some of his final songs, he followed up a self-proclaimed “R Kelly moment” with a tune on his penny flute, that he said he likes to bug his band with. I watched two older women dancing to his last song and found myself hoping that when I hit my senior years, I’d still be dancing too.
The bands following Bahamas forced people to hop fences to get to the next venue in time. Missing the bands they came for would be a crime.
Buck 65, or Richard Terfry, was the talk of the evening. After canceling his headlining set at WIMF in 2011, he returned with a vengeance to the General Wolfe Hotel.
And man, did he deliver.
There was something about his combination of crude humour, erratic dancing and record-scratching talent that made this performance one of the most memorable I’ve ever seen.
His first song "Legs Like Shotguns" experienced a technical difficulty, but Terfry wasn’t phased. Instead, he led us all in a sing-along of the Juicy Fruit theme song.
Further into his set he announced his upcoming romantic number, which turned out to be a cover of the Jungle Brothers’ "I’m Gonna Do You". It’s this humour that makes Terfry’s shows so legendary.
He got serious with his song "Indestructible Sam". It painted a clear image in my mind of someone who, despite being mistreated and alone, was the one “who had the last laugh.”
The set ended like it began – with a comedic note found in a second run-through of the Juicy Fruit theme song, before Terfy left the stage. He later shook a few hands at the front of the room, seemingly with a genuine smile and few words shared.
Day one ended on a high note. While usually one to hit the hay early, I left the General Wolfe to catch the 1:20 a.m. ferry feeling invigorated, alive and anxiously awaiting for what the second day of WIMF had to offer.
Check back Monday night for a recap and photo gallery of WIMF's second and final day.