This year’s trip to the Cavendish Beach Music Festival was a little different, this year it wasn’t with the local country station and thus no backstage access for your’s truly, on my own dime, but it was still well worth the trip. Travelling with my other half and some of our friends we bed down in Brackley Beach (thank-you Northwinds) about a 20 minute drive from the chaos of the concert site for Thursday’s show (featuring, Melanie Morgan, Shane Yellowbird, Gloriana, and Keith Urban).
The concert this year was 5 days, which in my opinion is way, way too long, it started on Wednesday with a group of local bands warming up the stage for bigger acts starting the next day. It ended on Sunday, which I think is an error on the part of the organizers, Friday’s weaker line-up could have been augmented by groups from Sunday’s line-up and given concert go-ers a travel day on Sunday. I personally think this would be a much stronger festival if it went to three days (Thurs.-Sat.) with the same amount of acts.

After arriving on the island and having a little BBQ lunch we began parusing the well organized concert web-site, and we decided that our best bet was to journey to one of the large concert parking lot’s (yay “P4”!) and take one of the awesome “free” shuttles to the concert site ($10 to park, free shuttle to the site entrance and back again, perfect). Arriving at the parking lot you are guided smoothly into a spot by attendents who are willing to answer questions and flash a friendly smile and then are directed to one of several shuttles awaiting to take a load to the entrance of the concert site. A smart addition near where you board the shuttles is the large signs that advise you what you ‘can’ and ‘cannot’ bring into the concert site, this gives you the opportunity to check your bag (most carry some form of backpack in) and return unwelcome items to your car while you are still in close proximity to your vehicle, smart. So off we go hopping onto what appears to be an old transit bus, abuzz with other concert goers (including 6 ladies in identical Keith Urban shirts who stated this was their third time seeing him) anticipating the first big day of the festival. After a short drive towards Cavendish we arrive at the drop off which is directly across from Avonlea (concert is behind the park) and are instructed that this is where we catch the bus to return to P4.

Once we enter the grounds of Avonlea (Village of Green Gables) there is a farely long walk to the entrance to the site which is at the very ‘back’ of the concert site, you can take advantage of ‘hay rides’ (wagons pulled by farm tractors) for a $2/pers charge to cut the distance in half. We didn’t take advantage of the rides but it’s a nice addition, I’d suggest to the organizers that the move it closer to the road so that people could ride all the way in from the street if possible. We finally made the trek up the slowly sloping hill to the entrance and went through the usuall ‘bag/contraband’ check at the gate, got our ticket scanned and moved into the gated concert site.

Immediately inside the concert site the ladies had to have their picture taken with the life-size ‘Keith Urban’ cut-out (amusingly they wrinkled their nose at getting their picture taken with the Taylor Swift one). Then it was off to the ‘merch tent’ for some shirts, we all chose some a nice Urban shirts that were a reasonable $35, unlike the $50 tank-top that Bon Jovi was selling last summer, geez for fifty bucks at least give me sleeves. Myself being the only one of our group that has been to the venue before, I now become a bit of a tour guide pointing out where the vendors are located, the ‘potties’, the beer area, the “kitchen” (the alternate stage area for more local groups that play when nothing is on the main stage) etc. We then make our way down through the well laid out site and plant our butts on the ‘grass’ in front of the stage about a hundred feet back, to listen to Melanie Morgan start the day off and bake in the mid-30’s temps.

Melanie Morgan is an up and coming young lady from Moncton whose gotten some great writing under her belt and whom I last saw open for Aaron Pritchett in Moncton. She’s a confident songstress that belts out a tune with a powerful voice who is backed up by experienced musicians, she interacts with her crowd, and generally entertains. After Ms. Morgan’s performance came Alberta born Shane Yellowbird’s turn on the main stage, this Cree-Canadian has a tendency to make a lot of the ladies swoon a bit as he steps on to the stage, he ran through some of his several hit songs like “Pick-up Truck” and “Beautiful Concept” all while interjecting stories about his travels to the concert, his crazy flight delays (he was in three Maritime provinces just to get to PEI) and just generally a personable guy.

After Shane Yellowbird’s performance we decided it was time to get some grub at one of the many vendor’s and this is where I had my first real gripe with the Cavendish concert experience. My first problem, was the fact that you have to stand in one line and buy plastic coins that have dollar values ($2, $4, $6, $10) and then go get in another line to purchase food, this is just silly. Second, it’s in the mid to high 30’s with humidity and you are charging people $4 for a 500ml bottle of water!!?? That’s not only insane it’s dangerous! So it cost me $10 for a bottle of water and a hot dog bun filled with pulled turkey…$10!…can you say highway robbery (especially the water)! I do have to give kudos to the “Turkey Hut” folks…that sandwich was freakin’ yummy, but, if it wasn’t $6 each I would have had two (maybe more)!

Our belly somewhat full, and the sun starting to dip in the sky, next up was ‘Emblem’ recording artist Gloriana! This increasingly popular foursome only formed as recently as 2008 and are rapidly winning over a fan base and a plethora of awards like the ACMA Top New Vocal Group of 2009. Personally I didn’t know a lot about Gloriana, only knowing their very successful hit song “Wild At Heart” which is a very ‘catchy’ tune. I must say, the show they put on in front of me made me a fan of Gloriana, especially when they pulled out three classic rock tunes by the Doobie Brothers, Fleetwood Mac, and especially their cover of Joe Walsh’s “Rocky Mountain Way” which was ‘very’ well done. Their performance had me tapping my toes, singing along, doing some air guitar, (ogling the very attractive, and talented, vocalist/mandolin player Cheyenne Kimball) and really enjoying their live performance. I’m a big fan of groups that perform well live, that entertain you, that interact with the crowd, and don’t just ‘go through the motions’ (see Tim McGraw last year, whom I’d pass on to see Gloriana any day). Bravo to Gloriana and I look forward to seeing them again very soon.


Next up was the main act, and the primary reason I came to Cavendish this year, Keith Urban. I’d been a fan of Urban since his guitar playing caught my attention in his band “The Ranch” and I looked forward to watching him play live. The show started with a large Canadian flag being put up on the big screen and the national anthem being played which sparked a heartwarming cheer from the crowd, then the flag faded and their was a video of Keith Urban standing next to a “Welcome to Charlottetown” sign that is right across the street from the Charlottetown airport…he waves to the crowd on the screen and as he walks off the screen…he walks onto the stage…great start. This began Mr. Urban’s 1.5 hour long show that had everything from fast up tempo songs like “Sweet Thing” and “Kiss A Girl” to the more mellow (and personal favorite) “Stupid Boy”. One left out song that surprised myself and especially my travelling companions was the omission of his first US number one single “But For The Grace of God” which they were looking forward to. That said, Keith played a tonne of his great songs like “Days Go By” and “You Look Good In My Shirt” and looked like he was genuinely enjoying himself on the stage. Speaking of on stage, at one point during one song (which one eludes my memory as I was scrambling to get a picture) he came off the stage while playing his guitar and entered the crowd and moved to a riser that was out in the crowd and sang a verse of the song from out there, a nice touch for sure. Urban completed the concert to a raucous crowd response and the crowd urged him to come out for an encore. As he walked back onstage he asked a young girl about her poster and that he’d been trying to read it all night…then proceeded to ask her to come onstage. This girl about 8 years old came up in her sparkly cowboy hat, poster in hand and he asked her where she was from, “Calgary, Alberta” she responded. He then read the poster and it said, “4796kms to see family and Keith Urban” at which time he signed her poster, gave her a hug and kicked into his encore, nice touch. The concert, complete with 15 minute encore, was a well rounded, entertaining and fun experience that I would recommend any Urban fan to see. He sounds almost better live than he does recorded, interacts, with the crowd and leaves you feeling fulfilled. Bravo Mr. Urban…we’ll see you again.

We exited the sight through the same exit/entrance (man I miss the VIP parking from last year) as when we came in, and I was the only one of us eyeing the ‘hay rides’ out so we walked to the waiting shuttles. As we arrived a bus was loading for P4, and I was shocked how many people could cram into a transit bus, but we made it up all the hills and back to P4, into our vehicle, and back on the road to Brackley Beach with the greatest of ease (yay P4!)

Keith Urban in the crowd

We had decided only to go to the Keith Urban day of the show because that is the one we really wanted to see, there was no draw for us on other day’s and had no desire to be embedded in the screaming teenie-weenie that would be a Taylor Swift concert. Plus Lady Antebellum was on a Sunday (last day of vacation) which I would have enjoyed but would have ended too late for us to drive back to the mainland.

Things I’d change at the venue:

– hay ride drop off/pick up closer to the road
– food vendor prices lowered ($4 water is ridiculous)
– no more plastic coins to buy food
– more screens (near concession stands, “kitchen” area) of what’s occurring on the main stage
– shorten the festival to 3 days (Thurs. to Sat.)
– lower current one day price by about 20% (so a pair of tickets is no more than $150 taxes in)