Review: “The win means a lot” Sammi Emerges Victorious at Chester Fest Battle of the Bands
Updated: May 13
by Scott Roos
All photos by Scott and Deanna Roos
This past Saturday, June 18th, the Chester Fest Battle of the Bands took place on the 14th Street stage during the annual Prince Albert Street Fair. Competing were Loose Stones, Barrett Prokopie, Ray of Sunshine and Sammi for the top prize of a much coveted Main Stage slot at the up and coming Chester Fest which will be held on the Prince Albert Exhibition grounds July 8th and 9th. Second place finishers would receive a slot on the Chester Fest 2nd stage as well as recording or live sound credit at Tri Sonic Sound. The third place finishers would receive free registration to Campcasters which is a “build your own guitar” workshop based in Prince Albert.
It was a busy day at the Street Fair. There was a lot to do and see including three different stages hosting entertainment of various types and persuasion. Vendors were out in full force peddling various wears. There were a plethora of street performers on hand and a lot of people out to enjoy the festivities. Unfortunately, temperatures were north of 30 degrees (it was hotter than hell out!) and whilst many onlookers took in the music as they strolled by the 14th Street stage, there was not a lot of shade to be had so there were never more than a handful at any given time that stopped for an extended period of time to truly take in what was going on musically.
First up was the country rock stylings of Loose Stones. Originally from Beauval, you could tell this band cut their teeth as a bar hopping cover band. They were very tight and together cycling through a setlist of mostly classic country songs. Vocalist/Guitarist Donny Corrigal held his own as the frontman with the more flashy Fred Corrigal laying down some pretty slick solos as the “guitarist with mystique”. Oh yeah and did we mention that the mystique laden Corrigal can also play a mean fiddle? In the meantime, drummer Kyle Laliberte and bassist Chad Burnouf were a solid foundation of groove as a rhythm section.
If anything, Loose Stones were a bit predictable, but, at the same time, an enjoyable listen ideal for a secondary, late night stage setting. You can tell they are a well seasoned band that will stay in their lane which is good when it’s 11 pm and you’re ready to party with your friends.
*Loose Stones entertained the crowd with a mix of country rock cover tunes. From the outset they proved that they are a pretty well seasoned "Cabaret style" band. (pics by Scott Roos)
Barrett Prokopie, acoustic guitar in hand, who was a last minute addition to the battle, took the stage next. From the outset it was clear that Prokopie was still working out just exactly who he is as an artist. At the heart of it he gives off the solos acoustic singer/songwriter vibe with a punk rock twist kind of in the same vein as Walter Schreifels. Where Schreifels delivers a softer vocal approach, though, Prokopie’s lines are delivered with a more gruff attitude and sneer. It’s sort of like if you took Schreifels lyrical sensibilities and melodic alchemy (who am I kidding most of you probably have no idea who Walter Schreifels is. If you have no clue please google him right now.) and mixed them with NOFX vocalist Fat Mike’s gruff delivery.
Prokopie would be awesome in a coffee house setting where a small crowd could really dig deeply into the vibe he gives off. He will be a really unique addition to the Prince Albert music scene once he gets his schtick aptly sorted. In the meantime, his set at the Street Fair gave him the chance to air out some of his solo acoustic material.
Jam band retro rockers Ray of Sunshine followed Prokopie. Fronted by Prince Albert scenester Alex Chisholm, clad in a tie dye shirt, headband and sunglasses, the band proceeded to traverse through a series of groovy tunes that harkened back to the freewheeling days of the Grateful Dead. As expected then, the band was pretty loose instrumentally, but when taking into consideration the style they are emulating, it’s obviously part of Ray of Sunshine’s charm. They also played a fair amount of original material which was refreshing.
The keyboard playing of recent addition Abe Lancaster as well as the lead guitar work of Jamie Lariviere stood out during their set. Tyler Gerstner and Ren Komo rounded out the group on bass and drums respectively. All in all, Ray of Sunshine would benefit from some vocal harmonies. This should be the next step in the evolution of their sound.
*Ray of Sunshine in action! (Pics by Scott Roos)
Finally, Sammi, a Saskatoon based rock ensemble, took the stage last. Prominently featuring the powerful vocals of Samantha Burnouf and quarterbacked by the incendiary guitar playing of fiance Travis Beatty, this group stormed out of the gate with a lot of bravado. The group was filled in by Tyler Dupuis on guitar, Riley Burr on bass and Braden Busse on drums.
*Sammi in action! (pics by Scott Roos)
"It’s so nice to finally get back into the swing of things and start playing live music again. Playing live is something that is almost essential for me to feel normal now. The stage is where I fully feel like myself and that’s exactly how I felt when I was singing at this years street fair," raved Burnouf in a brief conversation with NSMZ after her band's set.
"The set went super smooth! I was overjoyed with the reception of the crowd and the way everyone in the band worked together to make everything sound as tight as it did," added Beatty.
Burnouf’s stage presence was infectious, with the only drawback being she needed a music stand and an ipad to keep track of the lyrics on a few of the cover tunes the band played although I am sure that as this group gets back into the swing of things and rehearses more this will no longer be needed. On their original tunes, however, this group was sublime - no music stand or ipad required. They were interesting enough visually to draw you in and the level of talent on their instruments made these guys the “total package” on the day and they were able to emerge victorious in the battle of the bands with Loose Stones coming in second, Ray of Sunshine third, and Prokopie fourth.
"This win gives us the opportunity to showcase what we have to offer and share our music with the Chesterfest crowd, I’m also very happy to be able to share some new original songs that are going to be released later this year," continues Burnouf," We are all super excited for this years festival and can’t wait to share the stage with all of the other talented artists."
"The win means a lot. Chesterfest stage is going to be a huge plus to an already huge few months for the band," said Beatty.
Physical tickets are now for sale at Canadian Tire in Prince Albert. It all goes down July 8th and 9th with ticket prices as follows:
Friday- $35+tax Saturday - $65+tax Weekend - $90+tax
Want to buy online? Get yours at chesterfest.ca/tickets
With the battle of the bands now finished the final Chester Fest line-up is now set. Get your tickets now whilst you still can.
*update: Since this piece first went to print it was announced that Loose Stones could not make the festival so Ray of Sunshine was added in their place. To see where each band will play as well as complete list of the lineup schedule check out this link: https://www.chesterfest.ca/_files/ugd/3e465b_090650364ba5424ea2088adccc5a13e7.pdf