“I don’t have the blues, I have an iPhone,” smirked Afie Jurvanen. He had just finished performing the first few songs of his Harvest Jazz and Blues set and took a moment to address the fact that his music, released under the pseudonym Bahamas, isn’t exactly jazz or blues.
The moment was a good reminder of how far the annual music festival has come. Now in its 24th year, the crowd, in large part made up of teenagers or university students, cheered at the statement. The times have changed, and everyone seemed happy about it.
Even if Jurvanen didn’t want to admit it, the influence of other genres on his music is hard to ignore. With a backing female singer his songs often had the doo-wop and soulful feeling that was popular in the time before iPhones. His drummer often opted for brushes instead of drumsticks, giving many songs the hazy feel of a jazz band playing in a smoky bar.
The group went through three albums’ worth of songs over the night, touching on 2009’s Pink Strat, playing a lot of songs off of 2012’s Barchords and new tracks from
Bahamas is Afie, which came out in August.
Jurvanen threw in a guitar solo when appropriate, but for the most part, the songs didn’t vary much from their studio versions. The most impressive musical aspect of the show was the powerful voices of Jurvanen and backup singer Felicity Williams, who harmonized together throughout the show.
Though the crowd at times seemed disinterested in what was happening up on stage, Jurvanen did all he could to engage the audience. His jokes were quick and dry while his dance moves were subtle and hidden behind his guitar, but the smirk rarely left his face.
Like any festival, people came for different reasons and with different levels of knowledge about the performers. There were those that had probably never heard of Bahamas, and there were those that had been waiting years to be able to see him live.
Throughout the night, Jurvanen repeatedly mentioned how it was his first time performing in Fredericton.
As the night came to an end, he asked the crowd to practice for the next time he comes. With everyone chanting the chorus of Wreckless Eric’s “Whole Wide World,” Jurvanen slowly took off his guitar, nodded to the audience, and walked off the stage with his band mates.
No “goodbyes,” just a sense that he will be back again.