By Jenna Lee Williams
June 26, 2015
EDMONTON — Black Joe Lewis of Austin, Texas began the third and final day of Interstellar Rodeo. He immediately drew a crowd with his funk, blues and soul infused set that kicked off with “Booty City.” The screeching horns of the trio of brass players gave the performance a James Brown style bent, though things became wildly experimental as Lewis produced plenty of feedback with his guitar, eventually literally licking the fret board.
Canadian Cree folk singer-songwriter and activist Buffy Sainte-Marie took the stage next adorned in a multi-coloured fringe jacket. Symbolically, a red dress hung on a mic stand on stage, a tribute to the staggering numbers of missing aboriginal women. The Polaris nominee performed a variety of tracks; rockabilly tune “Blue Sunday” made an appearance, as did “Cho Cho Fire,” which she described as a “a song about the reservation or wherever you come from.” Shortly after, her performance of her 1964 Vietnam War protest song “Universal Solider” blew the audience away and brought goose bumps to the skin. The captivating show ended with Sainte-Marie and her band in a group-embracing bow.
The Interstellar All-Stars were up next. Comprised of Luke Doucet, Kathleen Edwards and Joel Plaskett, the trio was an extreme crowd pleaser that performed some of their own tunes as a group, including Joel Plaskett’s catchy track “Through & Through & Through.”
Charles Bradley’s Extraordinaires took the stage and performed an instrumental set few minutes before their keyboardist introduced the man himself.
“Good old-fashioned soul music, known as the original black swan; the original victim of love… please welcome Charles Bradley!”
Clad in sparkly oxfords, the man walked out onto the stage complete with a yellow satin suit bejeweled with rhinestones and an image of King Tut on the back. His set began with “Heartaches and Pain.” For the next two tracks, sound issues were being sorted while Bradley explained, “I want to give you my best” after a mid-set sound check. And that he did, complete with a resplendent costume change (into a sheer, rhinestone doted hooded cape), dance moves and the occasional seductive finger bite. Nearing the end of his set, the performance of the slower song ”Lovin’ You Baby” got all of the couples in the crowds slow dancing while the sun set behind them. It was a beautiful, somber ending to a well organized and executed festival.AB, Alberta, Black Joe Lewis, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Charles Bradley, Interstellar Rodeo, Interstellar Rodeo 2015, The Interstellar All-Stars