This year's not-CBC-Radio-3-sanctioned picnic lacked a strike, Moniski and Larry/Barry the dog. Instead, we had the Caboose Boys, Chris Murphy (who happened to be in the park with his family and joined us), kale salad (recipe below) and even more Radio 3 hosts, bloggers and listeners.
We had Tracks on Tracks to thank for three-fifths of the afternoon's intimate acoustic performances. Even though several picnickers had just spent four days on a train with these artists, it was plain they welcomed yet another opportunity to enjoy their music.
First up: Portage and Main. It's been a big year for these Southern-folk rock gentlemen-- Tracks on Tracks, one of the top 20 artists in the 2012 Peak Performance Project, and a new album bowing soon. A guitar case subbed for percussion on their two popular singles, "What Have I Done?" and "Carolina."
The next musicians, who were also part of the Tracks on Tracks, literally went out on a limb for the picnic: Zach Gray (one half of The Zolas) and Adrian Glynn, aka Emperors of the North, aka Murder on the Canadian, aka the Caboose Boys. "There's still one thing to stay up for," they sang, and we totally agree: their charming set performed perched in the branches of a tree.
After missing part of his set the night before, we were happy to have another chance to hear Jeremy Fisher, especially an encore of "The Scar That Never Heals." His play list also included Radio 3 favourite "Shine a Little Light," "Canned Goods," and ended with a great cover of Paul Simon's "Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard."
We got our first introduction to Ian Foster at the picnic, a folk/pop singer-songwriter in the storyteller vein from St. John's, NL. With his short, prematurely white hair, he seemed a bit out of place with the shaggier musicians. A finalist for SOCAN Songwriter of the Year, he's a talent in his own right. His song "The House," which alludes to the failed centralization of Newfoundland, particularly resonated with us Detroiters.
Last, but certainly not least: Vancouver's folk rock The Matinee. Their trajectory and sound are similar to fellow Vancouverites Portage and Main-- a top 20 finalist for the Peak Performance Project in 2011, Tracks on Tracks, new album soon, and lots of radio love for singles like "Sweet Water."
Kale and Red Cabbage Salad with Cumin Vinaigrette
This salad was a hit at the picnic, courtesy of Radio 3 blogger The Iceman (Ian Young), his wife Zoila and daughter Robin. So many people tried it and liked it, we had to share. We've already made it at home (minus the hemp seeds) and it's delicious. The best part is the kale and cabbage hold up to the dressing and stay crisp for days.
1 bunch of kale, washed, dried, middle stem torn out, finely shredded
1/2 small head red cabbage, shredded
1 orange pepper thinly sliced
5 plum tomatoes seeded and diced
2 avocados peeled and diced
1 bunch cilantro coarsely chopped
1/4 cup hemp seeds
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp chilli powder
salt and pepper
Juice of 1 lime
2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 medium shallot chopped
1/4 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp salt
1 tsp maple syrup
1 tsp cumin
1/3 cup olive oil
In a large bowl combine kale, cabbage and 1 tbsp of the olive oil from vinaigrette. With your hands, massage the vegetables for about 3 minutes to wilt the kale slightly. Add the remaining vegetables and gently toss. Make vinaigrette by combining all ingredients, gently toss again. Season black beans with cumin, chilli powder, salt and pepper and add to the salad. Let the salad sit for at least 30 minutes to allow the kale to soften further. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Kale is a powerful anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory food full of minerals.
Photos: Russ Gordon/N2D Images and CBC Radio 3