The sold out show at the Old Fire Hall on Friday night was so quiet you could hear wine being poured.
At least headliner Michael Bernard Fitzgerald could, and he stopped in the middle of a song to ask if the audience had heard it too.
The Calgary musician was one of the three big headliners to play this year’s Blizzard Music Festival. The three big acts of the festival played three different venues, and all three shows sold out.
Blizzard Fest marked Fitzgerald’s debut in Rossland.
“First time here and we were sold out tonight…. I mean it’s such a beautiful venue and the town is gorgeous,” he said.
Fitzgerald had a chance to check out Winter Carnival while he was in town, and even got a commemorative Winter Carnival cup.
During his show, he entertained the crowd with witty banter and tracks off both of his albums — Yes and I Wanna Make It With You. Though the first album is mostly acoustic, the second has a lot more electric guitar.
“It’s got a bit more of a rock ’n’ roll feel, the more recent record. I worked with the same producers as the record before though, so it still feels similar,” he explained.
Fitzgerald said playing unplugged gave him the chance to play songs like “This Isn’t It” and “I Wanna Make It with You” a little bit different. “And slow them down sometimes and focus on something else within the song.”
He even dropped an acoustic cover of the Beastie Boys’ “Fight For Your Right” into one of his songs.
“A night like this is exactly the kind of night you’d want as a performer,” Fitzgerald
That same night The Pack AD rocked the Flying Steamshovel; a show made that much more special because it almost didn’t happen.
Singer and guitarist Becky Black broke her finger in a door, and wasn’t sure she’d be able to play in time for Blizzard Fest. “Actually it was fortuitous because it was the last show of that tour, so we didn’t have shows booked for a couple of months. We did have to cancel a couple of shows though, just recently, but yeah it hurts a little bit. The cartilage is still kind of messed up, but it works.”
Parts of Black’s finger were still black on Friday, but it didn’t stop her and drummer Maya Miller from putting on a show that left the sold out crowd chanting for more.
It was The Pack AD’s second time playing at the Flying Steamshovel. The first time playing Rossland was during the off season, “but it was still fun,” said Black.
She and Miller didn’t have a chance to check out the carnival, as they flew out the next day. The duo will continue touring their new album Positive Thinking with a show in Nanaimo on Friday.
The final headliner of the weekend closed out Blizzard Fest at the Olaus Ice Palace on Saturday night.
It may have been cold outside, but Scenic Route to Alaska’s fans, including those who snuck into the venue by crawling under the stage, didn’t seem to mind. Even after the encore, the crowd refused to disperse, and kept singing along to the final song.
As evidenced by the enthusiasm of the audience, Scenic Route to Alaska has an established fan base in the Kootenays.
“We played the Flying Steamshovel one time, and we’ve done the Tiny Lights Festival in Ymir a few times,” said Murray Wood, bassist.
But it was the band’s first time playing Winter Carnival.
“When we did Tiny Lights everybody was like, ‘You gotta go do the Winter Carnival,’ so finally we’re here,” said Wood.
Scenic Route to Alaska is preparing for a cross-Canada tour, and while dates haven’t yet been announced, perhaps they’ll stop by the Kootenays again.
“We have nothing but great thing to say about these people and this environment,” said Wood. “We love this place, so we’re happy to come here any time.”