Dawson City Music Festival a soulful success

Under stunning weather, over a thousand festival-goers took part in the 37th Dawson City music festival last weekend. The festival main stage was an onslaught of intense musical experience.

Under stunning weather, over a thousand festival-goers took part in the 37th Dawson City music festival last weekend.

The festival main stage was an onslaught of intense musical experience. From brass bands to Chicago soul, there was a bit of everything for everyone.

New Brunswick artist Lisa Leblanc, accompanied by Maxime Gosselin on drums and Jean-Philippe Hebert at the guitar, set the stage on fire two nights in a row.

The 24-year-old bilingual singer was completely in her element, dancing on stage and swinging her head back and forth, a la Twisted Sister, with the crowd singing along.

She played some songs from her latest album, “Highway, Heartaches and Time Well-Wasted,” before joining the crowd to enjoy the other bands.

The strength of the festival lies in its variety, said executive director Emily Farrell.

On top of the musicians Yukoners have seen at festivals around the territory before – including Ryan McNally, Sarah MacDougall and Soda Pony – festival-goers got a chance to experience a band coming all the way from Chicago, The Renaldo Domino Experience.

The lead singer Renaldo Domino, described as the “unsung hero of Chicago soul” by the festival, took the stage surrounded by seven musicians, all dressed with white shirts and red ties.

Dancing and at times throwing the mic above his head, the middle-aged Chicagoan gave a vivid and energetic performance for his first tour north of 60.

Every year at this time, the entire town celebrates. As bars across town shut down, people danced outside the famously grungy-looking Pit, as nearby RCMP kept an eye on the crowd.

The iconic theatre Palace Grand was busy all weekend, added Farrell.

For the first time, the festival had a hands-on workshop: yukulele 101, with Ralph Shaw and James Hill.

Workshops usually held on the last day of the festival are jam sessions with different artists who usually haven’t met before.

“They were teaching the basics, rudimentary beginnings of playing yukulele, and we had a huge response,” said Farrell, who said the small venue was packed with over 80 people.

Farrell and the rest of the organizing committee are about ready for a couple days of rest before going back to the drawing board to prepare next year’s festival.

“We start working for next year’s in September,” she said.

Contact Pierre Chauvin at


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