For Colin Buchanan, guitarist of PEI-based band Paper Lions, there is one thing that comes to mind before anything else when he thinks of Fredericton: Harvest Jazz & Blues.
“I think of the festival,” Buchanan said. “I do. We played it once before and the crowd was really energetic. It was such a great time.”
Such a great time that the band is back, this time bringing with them songs off their latest album, last year’s Full Colour. “We’re excited for Fredericton. We didn’t make it there on the album release tour, so it’ll be great to get back to the city and play some of the new material.”
The album marks the latest addition to what Buchanan admits is a diverse catalogue.
“We’ve had a fairly varied career, beginning pretty squarely within the pop-rock realm, moving more into an indie sound, more guitar-driven. Then we put out an acoustic EP that was very stripped down,” the guitarist explained. With their most recent record, the band embraced “a bigger pop sound, bigger drums, began introducing synthesizers.”
“Our other guitarist was really developing his production skills, so we got to incorporate more of the more traditional pop sounds and techniques into the recording,” Buchanan stated. “And frankly, we had a lot more fun.”
The band is eager to bring this sense of fun to their Harvest performance.
“Whenever we perform, we try to put on as fresh and exciting a show as possible. That’s something we always try to tap into,” Buchanan promised. “That can mean incorporating stuff like inviting people to sing with us, video projections, confetti. Dynamics through the show: fast and slow, loud and quiet, really trying to keep people guessing what’s coming next. And really trying to incorporate as much ‘entertainment’ as we can.”
As our conversation drew to a close, I asked Buchanan what a festival like Harvest means to the East Coast music scene, which may not often play host to lineups of this scope. His answer, I think, eloquently captured the essence of Harvest’s spirit:
“We once performed at this folk festival in Australia,” he began. “And it was this enormous festival that meets out in the middle of the countryside for a week. It really became this little ‘city’ in the middle of the country! And an incredible vibe formed. What really struck us was just sort of this … vibe that existed that was really fun to be around.
“It’s hard to articulate beyond that, but there was just sort of a real sense of ‘community,’” Buchanan continued. “We had a few friends there, but beyond that we didn’t know anyone—so it didn’t come from knowing the people around us. But what I think it did come from was the culture created by the festival organizers. And that’s the key difference between a festival and a show: a festival has a chance to create a culture that lasts for a few days that taps into the heart of where they are.”
“In the case of Harvest, it’s really tapping into the heart of Fredericton, creating this culture that draws people together and gives them a sense of meaningful community.”
All of which, for Paper Lions at least, makes Harvest Jazz & Blues a festival that means just as much to its artists as its audiences.
Paper Lions will take over the Toyota Barracks Tent on Friday, Sept. 15 at 11:20 p.m. For tickets and more information, visit Harvestjazzandblues.com.