Rock music reverberates off the rocks of Manitoulin

Platinum Blonde put on a powerful show for the many people gathered on Friday night at the Flatrock Entertainment Centre. photos by Warren Schlote

LITTLE CURRENT – This past weekend’s events at the Flatrock Entertainment Centre in Little Current offered anything but flat rock as a score of powerhouse Grammy-nominated and Juno-winning musicians brought their high voltage sounds to the second-annual Rockin’ the Rock fest.

“I’m super happy. Mother Nature co-operated for the most part, except for a shower on Saturday morning to remind us she has that ability,” said organizer KT Timmermans.

The events got going on Friday evening with a band battle showcase that ran from 6:30 to 8 pm. Although three trusty rock outfits each brought their own unique style and blend of elements to the fore, the showdown between Lion House, Highway 69 and Northern Rage eventually eked out a winner.

Highway 69 took the title and earned the honour of returning for a longer set the following day to open up the Saturday schedule.

Following Friday’s band battle showcase, comedian and host Derek Seguin took to the stage and got the crowd revved up and in stitches. After his set, Platinum Blonde (which released a number-one Canadian-chart-topping hit ‘Crying Over You’ in 1985) came up and played several crowd favourites. 

That excitement, however, could not match the energy in the crowd as the evening’s headliner Glass Tiger came out to showcase its top hits including the internationally acclaimed ‘Don’t Forget Me (When I’m Gone).’ Unfortunately for the crowd, Bryan Adams (who provided backing vocals on the 1986 recording) was unable to provide his assistance that evening.

Glass Tiger lead singer Alan Frew got fully into his performance as Friday night’s headliner. Despite moving to Canada from Scotland when he was 16, his accent from the old world shone through.

The next day following the winning band battle groups, Lee Aaron brought her musical stylings up and set the tone for what would be another unforgettable evening of rock. She gave a special shout out near the end of the performance to her husband John Cody who also serves as the drummer in her group.

Montreal-founded new wave group The Box came up next and brought smiles to a great number of faces. Patrons in the band meeting and merch signing lineup could be heard reminiscing about how they once listened to their music all the time and had an extensive collection of their records.

One signer who previously recorded with The Box, Sass Jordan, has been announced as one of next year’s acts.

Toronto came up next with lead singer Anne ‘Holly’ Woods belting out some of the band’s hit singles including ‘Lookin’ for Trouble’ and ‘Your Daddy Don’t Know.’ As Toronto played away and darkness crept closer, the nearly-full moon began to rise in the southeast and created a dazzling effect as it peered through the growing clouds. Ms. Woods also made good reference to the abundance of limestone as a unique aspect of Manitoulin Island.

After much anticipation, the festival’s main headliner Trooper emerged onto the stage to deafening cheers. Although their hits that they reprised for this performance were too numerous to list, the crowd seemed to particularly appreciate ‘The Boys in the Bright White Sports Car’ and ‘Raise a Little Hell.’ Lead singer Ra McGuire gave a special shoutout to all the Anishinaabe fans who were there for the show. 

Ruby Thompson of Sheguiandah First Nation picks up some handcrafted jewellery from Steph Shilling and her shop Pop Up Guru, based in neighbouring Sheguiandah.

Before performing ‘The Thin White Line,’ Mr. McGuire touched upon the band’s journey towards becoming drug- and alcohol-free.

They came back for an encore that featured ‘We’re Here for a Good Time (Not a Long Time).’ As they let the audience sing the final notes of their closing song, they came out onto the stage extension for a bow as a fireworks display began to burst in the night sky above their heads, bringing yet another year of music at the Flatrock Entertainment Centre to a close.

Ms. Timmermans said she estimated attendance at close to 3,000 for the weekend.

“We had lots of folks from different parts of Ontario and Quebec. The artists were extremely, extremely happy. Resoundingly, they kept commenting about what a great audience it was. A lot of times, they don’t get people that are so engaged and who only come for the party, versus true music lovers,” she said.

Toronto, a band that was indeed formed in Ontario’s capital, had a diverse set including this powerful drum solo that drew praise from all of the musicians on stage as well as the crowd.

Plans are already underway for next year and so far, in addition to Sass Jordan, Honeymoon Suite and Sweet have been announced as some of the coming acts. Tickets and camping passes are already on sale.

“Thank you to everybody who continues to support these crazy dreams we have. We’re looking forward to seeing everybody in 2020,” said Ms. Timmermans.