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Published: 2011/08/22
by Greg Gouwens

Grand Point North Festival, Burlington, VT – 8/13-14

Nestled along the shores of Lake Champlain, with the majestic Adirondack Mountains rising on the horizon to the west, Burlington’s Waterfront Park seems like a natural place for a summer music festival. Who better to host than local-band-gone-national, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. The first annual Grand Point North festival was held August 13th and 14th.

Opening on a spectacularly sunny Saturday afternoon, the crowd gathered early to wait for gates to open and rush to their favorite spots, whether it be riding the rail or finding a perfect place to set up camp chairs. Some fans made their way immediately to the “Bowlarama” side stage to catch opening act Maryse Smith & the Rosesmiths, with the Nocturnals’ own Benny Yurco playing guitar. Others stayed in their spots all day, to watch acts on the main stage, such as Jessica Lea Mayfield and Rubblebucket. Other side stage acts included Parmaga, Lendway, and Chamberlain, all of whom kept concertgoers in motion.

Later on the main stage, a miraculous sunset over the lake greeted Fitz and the Tantrums. Their upbeat energetic sound, ended with a fabulous cover of the Eurythmics “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” which left the audience hyped up and ready for Grace Potter and the Nocturnals.

GPN opened with an old favorite, “Ah Mary.” Grace’s electric energy was in evidence from the start, as she danced and entertained like a modern day version of Tina Turner, and didn’t stop for two hours. Potter belted out well-received selections from the group’s latest self-titled album such as “Tiny Light,” “One Short Night,”“Hot Summer Night” and “Paris,” not to mention covers of Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit” and Joan Jett’s “I Love Rock and Roll.”

Day two brought a forecast of rain showers all day but as if not to spoil the fun, a drop never fell. The crowd once again gathered early to secure their spots. The side stage brought Fredericks Brown, Split Tongue Crow, Eames Brothers,and Barbacoa while the main stage acts included Hoots and Hellmouth, Anais Mitchell & the Hadestown Orchestra, the grassroots folk sounds of The Wood Brothers, and blues great Taj Mahal with his trio. Grace and the Nocs once again hit the stage to entertain the enormous crowd and just as the previous night, they did not disappoint. The opening song “Stop the Bus,” had the crowd jumping and this reaction didn’t halt, while they enjoyed “Mastermind,” “Treat Me Right” and again such hits as “Ah Mary,” Nothing But The Water” and “Paris.”

The weekend culminated with an encore that brought a surprise guest to the stage, country superstar Kenny Chesney, to sing his hit duet with Potter, “You and Tequila.” He then remained until the end to sing along on covers of Bad Company’s “Feel Like Making Love” and Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin’”.

For a first time festival, Grand Point North was exceptionally well received. Once has to expect that the numbers will continue to swell, as in years to come, people from all over will get to rejoice in the festival and the band that brought it all together.

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