A homegrown lineup of Norfolk County roots musicians took to the stage on Saturday at the Birdtown Jamboree “Cornstock” Festival.
What started as a party in local blues musician Tony Duclos’s backyard has become a 17-year tradition and a showcase of local talent. The concerts have also raised thousands of dollars for local arts programs for children and youth.
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“We’ve raised up to $10,000 a year for children’s music and art initiatives,” said Duclos Saturday at Homegrown Hideaway just outside of Port Dover where the event has been held for the past two years. “Last year, we bought 25 ukuleles for Boston Public School.”
For the first 15 years, the Birdstock Jamboree was held over the first weekend after Labour Day at the Wagonwheel Produce and Corn Maze, where it got the Cornstock Festival moniker.
Last year, due to COVID-19 pandemic protocols, the concert was scaled back to a single day and moved to the grounds of Homegrown Hideaway, adjacent to the Lynn Valley Trail.
Concert-goers gathered around the stage on lawn chairs to enjoy a full roster of musicians who donate their time to the event. This year’s concert included songs from the first-ever compilation recording of the festival’s musicians, called the Birdtown Jamboree Project.
“Long-time Birdtown Jam member Vinny Szczesny came up with the idea to record many of the festival’s musicians and their music at the start of the pandemic, and this became the focus of his work over the last year,” said Duclos.
Recorded last winter at Vinny Van Studios in Simcoe, Szczesny was the recording engineer and Duclos the producer, with Brian Stewart and Dave Barber doing the mixing and mastering.
A copy of the 11-track recording was included in the festival ticket price. Also raising funds was a silent auction and an “art guitar auction” with the instruments decorated by the work of local artists.
Duclos said a second volume of recorded songs is being planned for next year.
“As far as we know, this is the first time in the history of Norfolk County that a group of local musicians has come together to record a compilation CD of all-original music, and we are pretty proud of that fact,” said Duclos. “That, and the fact that it’s being done to benefit our local music and arts programming for kids makes it even better.”
Other organizations supported by the Birdtown Jamboree include the Simcoe Heritage Friendship Festival, The Young Theatre Players, the Norfolk Musical Arts Festival, and Guitars For Kids.
Performing at the festival were Hannah Dolson, Amber Banks and Nolan Gibson, Scott “Boots” Ashley and Kevin Robinson, Bob Dolson and Rick Van Ryssen, Jayne Laidlaw with John Androvics and Nicholas Vecchiola, Robert “Bobby” Banks, Darryl Weaver and Jeremy Snowden, Tony Duclos with Eric Jean Patrice Brousseau, Richard Huner and Vinny Szczesny, J.D. Semple Jerri Hooley and Kathryn Forester, and Thom Adkins.