TRURO – Looming thunderclouds didn’t stop the vendors and stage crew from setting things up in the hours prior to the Dutch Mason Blues Fest kick off.
A mix of locals and come-from-aways set up their booths, with their sights set on sales. Displays ranged from craft booths, to bike displays to homemade guitars.
While other areas of the province waited out power outages and thunderstorms, Miriah Kearney and Rebecca LaPointe put the final touches on their tent.
The duo has owned and operated Beck and Boosh Jewelry and Styles since May 2013, and is heading back to the blues festival for a second time.
“I think it’s super important to promote local business at an event like this,” Kearney said. “This is the only big music festival we have here, so it’s a mutual thing – we support them, they support us.”
Beck and Boosh have been busy this summer, with more than 30 festivals and events on their calendar. While they do a solid portion of their business online, the festivals offer an opportunity to sell to a new audience, and tailor their displays to the event.
“We like to go very Bohemian and earthy for most festivals,” Kearney said. “For the Blues Fest especially, we’ll have a lot of leather up front and hopefully attract some new customers.”
Inside the Agridome, Eric MacLean was also hoping to draw in new buyers to his hobby-turned-business, Cody Guitars.
MacLean, a Pratt and Whitney mechanic, cleared a jumble of gear from his vehicle before revealing an arsenal of homemade, handcrafted guitars.
A self-professed “jack of all trades, master of none,” MacLean began building guitars four years ago after a friend asked him if he could carve out a body.
“Think of it as a hobby gone wrong,” MacLean said with a smile. “Or like a hobby out of control.”
Having now built about 20 guitars, MacLean has worked the process to a science.
“I start with a chunk of mahogany and I plane, carve and chop away until I get this,” he said, pointing to a blend of the famous Les Paul and Stratocaster styles.
There have been bumps along the way, however, including one large obstacle – MacLean cannot play guitar.
“I got into it too late,” he said. “My old mechanic’s hands just don’t agree with it.”
Instead of testing them himself, he lends them to his co-workers and gathers feedback. He then takes it into consideration and starts completely from scratch.
MacLean is taking his work public for the first time at the Dutch Mason Blues Festival, with a simple goal.
“I just want to make more money than it costs me to be here.”
As for how a hobby woodworker and full-time mechanic becomes a skilled luthier?
“The Internet is a wonderful place.”
Blues fest program and attractions
Acoustic showcase -12:30 to 1:30 p.m., entertainment tent, featuring The McCready Brothers.
Mainstage concerts – 1:30 to 6 p.m., including Shrimp Daddy and the Sharpshooters, Kendra Gale Band, Paul Deslauriers Band and Royal Southern Brotherhood.
Acoustic showcase – 6 to 7 p.m.
Mainstage concerts 7 p.m. to 1 a.m., including Garrett Mason and Friends, James Cotton and Darrell Nulisch, Doyle Bramhall II and Gregg Rolie.
Late-nite jam – 12:30 to 3 a.m., entertainment tent.
Acoustic showcase – 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.
Mainstage concerts – 1:30 to 7 p.m., including Terry Whalen band, Highway 125, Monkey Junk, Head of the Herd, David Wilcox.
Other festival attractions– Motorcycle lifestyle show, barbecue competitions, fireworks (Saturday 9:30 p.m.), hot air balloon rides (Saturday 1:30 p.m. and Sunday 1:30 p.m.).
"It's rained and stormed in other parts of Nova Scotia just about every year we've been here, but we've managed to avoid it most of the time," said concert producer Dave Dewolfe. "We'll be going ahead."
Vendors were busy on Friday afternoon setting up shop around the grounds and inside the Agridome as event staff geared up the stage for the opening night.
"If there's a thunderstorm or severe winds or anyhting, we'll have to shut it down," DeWolfe said. "Otherwise, it's a go."
A severe thunderstorm watch was issued province-wide by Environment Canada just before 2 p.m. as dark clouds began to loom over the Truro area. The warning spans across the province, with the possibility 70 km/hr gusts and hail. Dewolfe isn't worried though.
"It can be thunder and lightning in Halifax, clear in Truro and snowing in New Glasgow," he said. "We'll be fine."
Their luck seems to hinge on being located on a harness racing track, he said.
"There must be something about all those horseshoes."