Photography

Festival Of Friends

Last weekend was the Festival Of Friends, a FREE festival that has been happening annually since 1976 in Hamilton Ontario. My decision to go was last minute as I wasn’t sure if I’d have the weekend off work and the drive to Hamilton, but I was approved and received my Media Accreditation the day of the festival and with nothing to do the day of, I said Sure, off to Hamilton!
It was my first time every going to this festival and I have to say… for a FREE festival it is MASSIVE.. heck.. it was massive regardless of having to pay or not. To have a stage set up that big, with that kind of lighting, full out carnival games and rides.. all the vendors and food trucks for FREE… just insane! Not only was all that great but a lot of great bands through out the day as well.

Later in the night I remember looking back from the stage and seeing people slowly start to set up chairs and blankets casually watching the bands but then around 7pm, I looked back again and there was a massive crowd. Looking back once more as the stage crew was setting up for The Spoons … my jaw dropped.. the amount of people that had gathered was one of the biggest crowds I’ve seen.. it was a sea of people as far as I could see… and if that wasn’t packed enough.. there were even more people once Loverboy hit the stage.. it took me 15 mins to travel through the sea of people to get to the other side of the park to get back to my car.

My focus of shooting was on the 4 bands leading up to Loverboy:

GOODNIGHT, SUNRISE

This band was incredible.. so much energy on stage! I mean.. there was a Keytar!! 2019 and there was a Keytar!! I was blown away. Their sound has this hint of 80’s but also a nice new, fresh upbeat alternative rock vibe that I fell in love with.

GOODNIGHT, SUNRISE

All the way from Los Angeles California, this retro power pop band came out in full force to put on a great set! Fire Tiger has really nailed that 80’s sound in today’s day and age and it’s fantastic. Their hit song ‘Energy’ is so catchy and full sounding.. reminds me of being a kid in the 80’s sitting down watching the Goonies after our riding around on my skateboard after a full morning of playing Nintendo.. it’s so good!

FIRE TIGER

After photographing The Spoons last year in my home town of Woodstock Ontario at Cowapolooza, I was pretty pumped to get to photograph them again this year. This band is so tight on stage and sound amazing every time. Throwing in all the old hits then mixing it up with some new tunes, it was the perfect old and new blend and it was well received by the crowd.

THE SPOONS

Who doesn’t know this Canadian staple? come on … we all know them because we are all just ‘Working for the weekend’ … we’re ‘Notorious’ for it. Once they hit the stage the crowd was “Lovin’ Every minute’ of it. After all these years, the guys still sound amazing.. couldn’t believe how good it was and enjoyed every single song.

LOVERBOY

Country Music: Aaron Allen

As you may have seen, most of my photography ventures this year, well.. over the past year, I’ve been returning to my photography roots. My passion for photography started back in high school and quickly became a big part of my life shortly after high school when I started photographing concerts. I’ve always been drawn to music, especially live music and for years it was all about that Punk Rock which then led to EMO and now I’m all about that Country. I love all kinds of music but there’s something about Country.. specifically country rock, I love it. Country music fans are some of the nicest people I’ve met, and I have made many new friends just from going to concerts.
So over the past year I’ve been slowly getting back into the concert photography, it’s a very tough world from what it use to be. I remember you could walk into any show with your camera and start taking pictures, the only worry was having a mosh pit fire up and you get tossed around holding onto the camera you had to save up to buy with a part time job. Now, you have to spend days writing emails … emails to bands, managers, promotors, labels, venues… anything to try and get Approved for media accreditation. It’s a grind, and I get it, everyone has a camera, everyone wants to be a photographer, everyone wants to be the ones up close to the bands in “the photo pit” so the market is flooded, but it’s flooded in every market. Let me tell you though, you put in the work, you send those emails, you make those connections and things start to flow.

Aaron Allen is a musician who has been in the industry for 20 years. After 20 years of the grind, he is finally making some big waves in Country Music. His first big single ‘ Where Music Comes from ‘ was received well and played on country radio (Country 104 - London On & Woodstock On.) Spotify picked it up as well as AppleMusic. Aaron was part of Juno FanFest in London, as the Juno’s were in London Ontario, and that’s where I first got to photograph him. It was a very late night performance.. I could be wrong but I think it was lie 1am… at The Bull & Barrel downtown London. I was very tired after photographing bands all day, but I really wanted to stick it out and see Aaron’s set, it was my last shoot for the night before the 50 min drive home. Of course, Aaron put on a great show, the shoot was tough as the lighting was dim but I made it work. Next day I posted the images, tagged Aaron in them and he saw them and reached out to let me know he loved them. I’ll fast forward this story so I don’t write a book here but, months later Aaron was releasing a new song, that song was titled ‘GOOD TATTOO’. Along with a new song release artists need a new image to go with it so there’s something to see when people look for it on streaming sites such as Spotify & Apple Music, so Aaron remembered me and the shots from the Juno’s, he then decided to give me a shot. We sent some emails back and fourth, found a date that worked with both our schedules, met up here and Woodstock and spent a couple hours hitting a few locations around town, chatting about the music business and creating some album art. Next thing I know, the images we created were being used for lyric video’s, teaser images on social media leading up to the release of ‘GOOD TATTOO’ and the grand finale …. the face of ‘GOOD TATTOO’ … an image of Aaron on a sunny day standing with his guitar on a dirt road which is now published on Spotify & Apple Music!

Huge thanks goes out to Aaron for trusting me with his album artwork, it was a fantastic opportunity and I think it all worked out quite well. Now I will be photographing him in St.Thomas Ontario, Live at the IRON HORSE Festival this coming Saturday!

Check Out Aaron’s Socials for updates. Give “GOOD TATTOO” a listen on Spotify or Apple Music and don’t forget to call your local country music radio stations and request this new song from Aaron Allen!

- Cheers

GOOD TATTOO - Aaron Allen

Cover Photo:
- Kevin Vyse
- Kevin Vyse Photography
- Stage Pass Media

BACONFEST: Concert Series

Baconfest!! have you heard of it? In a small town named Lucan Ontario there is a fest with such a name.. not only is it a name but there is bacon! bacon everything. Now.. I don’t want misguide you anymore than I already have with the title of this blog post .. buuuuut by the time I rolled into Lucan for Baconfest, vendors had mostly packed up and the town was starting to open the street back up, so while I’d love to give you details on all the bacon goodies.. I sadly cannot other than I had a hotdog with back bacon on it and it was delicious.
A) I wanted to make you aware of the small town Lucan Ontario and B) I wanted you to know that they have an event called Baconfest that is all about bacon because bacon is delicious! Oh and I also need to mention this event is also about bikes.. Motorbikes.. yes.. this is a biker event but it’s also for families and teenagers and kids and anyone who enjoys bacon. Main street of Lucan gets shut down, vendors line the streets and so do the bikers with their bikes and let me tell you, there are a TON of people.. I read on their website they now get like 25,000 people or something like that and every year it’s growing, baconfest has only been around for 4 years so far.

So.. what is this post actually about? well if you read my posts, especially lately, you would have noticed a trend, and that trend has been MUSIC, BANDS, LIVE MUSIC, CONCERT PHOTOGRAPHY.. so as you may have guessed… along with Baconfest there are bands! From what I’m told, baconfest in the past few years has had bands but they have all been cover bands or tribute bands and while that is fun and all.. sometimes they don’t bring in huge crowds.. this year however, baconfest stepped it up and brought in some class acts from the country genre! who played? well here we go:

THE RIVER JUNCTION BAND ( due to the lengthy drive to Lucan, I missed this band)
BUCK TWENTY
EAST ADELAIDE
ERIC ETHRIDGE

That right there is a pretty good line up for a small town.. it’s a pretty good line up period!

BUCK TWENTY

Buck Twenty was the second band on and these guys are phenomenal, catchy tunes, great stage presence, always smiling and interacting with one another, so full of energy and they are the nicest dudes too. With the sun setting and casting a nice golden light onto the stage, Buck Twenty comes out and takes a hold of the crowd. I have to say, a lot of people in this crowd knew B20 because I saw a bunch of people rocking their shirts. Buck Twenty does an amazing job at using the entire stage during their performance.. especially the sides where there are usually some sort of box they can stand up on and get up nice and high over the crowd and single themselves out which is awesome for photographs, which you will see in the set . These guys are doing very well and will continue to do so. I urge you to check out their music on social media, and check out their website.. if you see they are playing a show near you, go check them out.

EAST ADELAIDE

East Adelaide are an up and coming group based out of Toronto Ontario and they are fantastic, you definitely need to give them a listen if you haven’t heard them before.. their song “ You Don’t Get To Love Me “ is a fantastic one, very catchy and very powerful. Love seeing these guys perform, this was only my second time seeing them and photographing them, but i’m hooked. First time was in London Ontario at London Concert Theater on the “Winter’s a beach Tour “ with The Reklaws and I found them even better outdoors during the summer!

This guy right here!! Eric Ethridge, wow.. has this guy ever come so far.. From Sarnia Ontario, got his start playing JACKS in London Ontario, to a record deal with Ole’s Red Dot Label then making the move to Nashville! If you’ve ever met Eric, he’s one of the nicest people, humble and always tries to take the time to meet his fans. Even though Eric has blown up and moved to Nashville, he still finds the time to get back to Ontario often and still plays “ the little shows” because that’s where his long time fans are. Been almost a year since I’ve seen Eric perform and I was pretty excited to see what has changed and all I can tell you is that it’s better and better every damn time. Eric’s confidence on stage makes for a great show, he seems so relaxed up there and you can tell he’s doing what he loves. As soon as he hit the stage the crowd went nuts, people were running for the stage, packing in so tight, smiles all around, especially on Eric’s face when he saw the response. From “ California “ to “ If You Met Me First” Eric covered all his hits with the crowd backing him Lyrically, it was a night to remember. Eric even took the time to hunt down a bridal party he saw earlier and brought the bride to be up on stage to sing to her. Not only did Eric bring someone up on stage, but Eric took it upon himself to get off the stage and submerge himself down into the crowd while singing which made everyones night. Now, with being the short guy I am.. I quickly lost Eric in the mass and couldn’t get any shots of this but I knew he was down there making fans happy!

JUNO AWARDS 2019

Never in a million years would I have ever thought that photography would take me to the Juno’s… but first I want to say, it didn’t really take me to the Juno awards themselves.. but very close and I am very thankful for the opportunity I was given. Leading up to the Juno Award night there is JUNO FEST, which is 100 different bands playing in 15 different venue’s across the city (London Ontario). Just outside of Budweiser Gardens in the South Parking Lot there was a giant heated tent that housed THE SIDE STAGE, which is where some bigger acts played and the Official Juno’s After Party was held. With the wrist band I was awarded, I had access to the Side Stage and all 15 venues in London, could cut the lines and get in early in order to photograph the bands playing in each venue. This wristband also allowed me to have access to the JUNO CUP, a hockey game between the Artists, and Professional Hockey players.

With out going through all the details and dragging this blog post out into a massive thing no one will ever read…. Side Stage was incredible. It was the first show I shot during the Juno’s and it started out with the incredible WASHBOARD UNION who I had not seen yet and really wanted to so it was amazing that I was able to see them (seen them twice during the Juno’s but we’ll get to that), but also photograph them! These guys are incredible, such a friendly bunch, their vocal harmonies are dead on and sound so good, their songs are lively and keep your feet tappin’. Up next was Jess Moskaluke who I had also never seen and also wanted to.. I was on a roll! she was fantastic sounded just like she does on the radio and knocked out all her hits. Last but definitely not least THE REKLAWS!!! I’ve photographed The Reklaws … 4 or 5 times now and they never ever get old.. seriously.. love them to death, their songs are contagious, Jenna is hilarious on stage and so fun, Stu with his smiles and for some reason always seems to look my way and give me a point his finger or his guitar and I love it!

Back to The Washboard Union. After they won their Juno for Breakthrough group of the year.. and I mean right after, they were performing again at The Bull and Barrel and let me tell you, that show was insane. The high Washboard was on from winning that Juno, the buzz from the crowd excited to see them and so very happy for them winning a Juno.. the place was so packed, I was lucky I got there over an hour early so I could be right up front because If I had shown up even 20 mins later than I did.. I was at the back of the building. Washboard Union was so happy to win and even happier to share their win with their fans in Bull and Barrel that night it was one hell of a party.. they have a rule where they do not drink if they are performing, but just once, that rule was broken to celebrate their Juno. Shots were brought out and Chris from the band says “ boys the medicine is here” … many thank you’s were said, so much appreciation from the band to the fans, to each other.. it was a moment i’ll never forget.

This post is getting very long so I’m just going to list the other bands I had the pleasure of photographing and I want them all to know I’m so thankful for their music, their image shares and the opportunities I’ve had to photograph:

AARON ALLEN
JULIA HAGGARTY
NICE HORSE
LOUD LUXURY
RYAN SHEPERD

There would be more on this list, such as The Trews, Genevieve Fisher and a few more but when I arrived to the venue’s at their set times they were so packed I literally couldn’t even get in the doorway.


THE WASHBOARD UNION - SIDE STAGE

JESS MOSKALUKE - SIDE STAGE

Jess Moskaluke performing at the 2019 JUNO’s - Side Stage in London, On.
© Kevin Vyse | Stage Pass Media

THE REKLAWS - SIDE STAGE

The Reklaws performing on the Side Stage at the 2019 Juno’s - London Ontario.
© Kevin Vyse | Stage Pass Media

NICE HORSE - BULL & BARREL

NICE HORSE performing during the 2019 JUNO FEST at Bull & Barrel - London Ontario
© Kevin Vyse | Stage Pass Media

JULIA HAGGARTY - BULL & BARREL

JULIA HAGGARTY performing during the 2019 JUNO FEST - Bull & Barrel in London Ontario.
© Kevin Vyse | Stage Pass Media

AARON ALLEN - BULL & BARREL

AARON ALLEN performing at the 2019 JUNO FEST in London Ontario.
© Kevin Vyse | Stage Pass Media

LOUD LUXURY - SIDE STAGE

LOUD LUXURY performing on the Side Stage during the 2019 JUNO’s - London Ontario.
© Kevin Vyse | Stage Pass Media

RYAN SHEPHERD - SIDE STAGE

RYAN SHEPHERD performing during the 2019 JUNO’s on the Side stage - London Ontario.
© Kevin Vyse | Stage Pass Media

THE WASHBOARD UNION - BULL & BARREL

THE WASHBOARD UNION performing during the 2019 Juno fan fest in London ontario just after they won their Juno Award for Breakthrough Group Of The Year! Huge Congrats going out to these fellas.
© Kevin Vyse | Stage Pass Media

A HUGE thank you goes out to Rock It Promotions for hooking me up with the wristband and all their helpers at each venue guiding me through, also thank you to the Juno’s for making this such an amazing event. Thank you to the City of London for being so awesome and opening up all these venues for such an incredible and memorable experience. Thank you to Live Nation, Start.ca, Budweiser Gardens, Budweiser, Apple Music, TD Bank, Music Canada, SOCAN, VIA Rail, 3M, CBC Music, SiriusXM, Jackson Triggs, Long & McQuade … with out all of these sponsors things like this can’t happen.. and when things like this don’t happen, opportunities can’t happen.. this was an opportunity I never thought i’d have or get to be apart of… the Thankfulness is HUGE!

Cheers.
Kevin Vyse.

APRIL WINE - COWAPOLOOZA 2018

With South Side Park in Woodstock Ontario packed with hundreds of people under the stars on a warm summer night, April Wine hit the stage for the second time in the Cowapolooza history. 
It's incredible to see a legendary piece of Canadian music history put on such an incredible show after all these years. April Wine sounded amazing playing all their hits, the crowd going nuts, dancing and singing the night away. Best part about this show was the mix of people.. old and young and everyone seemed to know the lyrics to most of the songs. April Wine ended their set with the amazing, and my personal fav song, ROLLER, shortly after they exited the stage, the crowd, without hesitation started chanting "encore" to which April Wine replied with coming back out and Blasting out their hit "Oowatanite" ... and Oowatanite it was! 
 

CMAOntario's New Faces Showcase

They came, The Played, They conquered! 

Incredible weekend last weekend at the CMAOntario's in London Ontario. During the New Faces Showcase performers who are building in the country music scene had the chance to show everyone what they have during a free show on an outdoor stage. I won't lie.. every single act who performed was incredible in their own way. 

Of course.. with every concert you need to have head liners.. Headlining the CMAOntario's New Faces Showcase were two Canadian heavy hitters.. 

THE REKLAWS
and
MEGHAN PATRICK 

I will put their images at the end of this post so people will scroll through the New Faces Showcase performers .. we want to get them out there and get people interested. 

Performers: 

This woman and her band.... Phenomenal! With Kelsi's phoenix fire hair, beautiful smile thats always glowing up on stage and her powerful vocals, your attention quickly focuses on the stage. Great sound great stage presence with catchy songs and they are also great people to talk to. If you get the chance, make sure you check them out.. they are based out of Toronto On. 
 

Based out of Hamilton Ontario, The Redhill Valleys are definitely a band to keep your eyes on. With their amazing harmonies your foot can't stop tapping along with their original sound, great stage presence too.  

Josh David Band.. first off.. this guys voice! amazing voice with some nice grit, and some rocking country sound. These guys put on a great show, Josh is always moving and interacting with band members on stage which is always fun to watch. 

phenomenal sound coming from these guys, very catchy songs with awesome harmony vocals and some killer guitar solo's/leads, their song 'Minnedosa' is one of my favs. 

Brad Battle - web-13.jpg

Brads song 'Crazy Beautiful' definitely gets stuck in your head, very full sound, catchy, nice guitar solo's, stage presence is well done.. he does a really awesome cover of A Great Big World's - Say Something.. definitely a band to check out. 


HEADLINERS 

THE REKLAWS

If your into country music and you don't know this Brother and Sister duo... then you need to immediately stop reading this blog and head on over to their website, spotify, facebook, instagram... I don't care where.. but go check them out. The Recklaws are blowing up.. their song Long Live The Night is now the Thursday night Football theme song! stage presence is huge with these two always moving around the stage, Jenna is always dancing up a storm and getting the crowd pumped up and rowdy. If you see these two on any concert bill, just know you are in for an incredible show!