Current Swell & Friends Rifflandia, Victoria BC, September 16

Current Swell & Friends Rifflandia, Victoria BC, September 16
Photo: Lindsey Blane
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What a way to cap off a fantastic festival weekend, by inviting one of the most buzzed bands in the Victoria music scene today to bring along a bunch of friends to help send Rifflandia home.
 
I heard a little bit of the Band's "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down," like a group cheer, in the moments before Current Swell took the stage, and it seemed a perfect touchstone for the guys as their opening track, "Woman in White" from their 2017 album When to Talk and When to Listen, had that same style of harmonious Americana.
 
Current Swells' first guest came out a couple tracks in, as noted bluesman Jesse Roper, aka the Metchosin One, laid down a scorching guitar solo for "Keys to the Kingdom," a song that vocalist/guitarist Scott Stanton encouraged the crowd to help sing to great effect.
 
Subsequently, Dougal McLean and the Monarch Trio gave "Bad News" and "Too Cold" a wonderful string quartet, followed by an appearance from Jon and Roy, and a four-piece horn section that took the rendition of "Cursed" from Current Swell's 2009 full-length Protect Your Own to another level.
 
Most impressively, Laura Mina Mitic from Carmanah came out with a mini-choir for a glorious tribute to the recently departed Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin. Granted, "Son of a Preacher Man" is best known by Dusty Springfield's version, but the song was actually written for Aretha, who would go on to do her version a couple years after Dusty. Regardless, Mitic filled some big shoes with her vocals.
 
Altogether, as much as it was a testament to the tightknit community of Vancouver Island's music scene, the "Friends" aspect of this Current Swells set felt like a nod to Folk Festivals and their employment collaborative workshops, except a little better arranged.