An army of long-time Lindsay Ferguson fans gathered on the lawn in front of the Monster Stage to relish in the magic of her music. She has performed on many occasions at Bluesfest. Much of Ferguson’s set was devoted to material from her third and latest album, Chameleon. It’s a well-titled album, given every song morphs through varying colours of genres, rhythms, tempos, instruments, and vocal flavours, taking the listener on a journey filled with surprise trinkets.
Ferguson boarded the stage to a round of welcoming cheers along with her band, Brock Zeman (acoustic guitar), Steve Foley (drums), Christopher Hopkins (bass), and Blair Michael Hogan (electric guitar/mandolin). Allowing freedom of movement, Ferguson shed her guitar for most of the performance and could focus every drop of energy on vocal output.
She began with the title track to her new album, which was a pop/hip-hop ride of frivolous fun, and featured her voice as more of a percussive tool. So did an easy moving hip-hop flavoured piece, “Two Minds.” Her song/rap verses were impressive and drew a rush of applause from the audience.
It’s impossible for me to pick a favourite when it comes to Ferguson’s music. I’d have to say one that resonated with me—and showcased the wide talent of her voice—was “Doors And Heartbeats,” which Ferguson dedicated to her nephew. Her voice was front and center in this very organic piece, flitting weightlessly like a leaf dancing in the wind. Ferguson made her way through pretty arpeggios backed by lovely acoustic arrangements and percussive accompaniment. Later the tune snuck into intensifying and soul-bearing cries that left me awestruck.
Every once in a while, Ferguson reached into a bag to throw handfuls of mini Swiss chocolate bites out into the crowd… in appreciation of her audience, and perhaps a nod to her second home, Switzerland. She introduced acoustic guitarist, Brock Zeman, who produced her album, and with whom Ferguson co-wrote “Ships.” Zeman plucked a gorgeous intro that moved to a gentle beat, and was later joined by Hogan on mandolin, which gave the piece its Celtic flair. I also loved the driving beat of “Apologies,” an infectious roots-rock number that unleashed a heavy dose of rhythm and lovely vocal climbs near the finish.
Ferguson showered the audience with another dose of chocolate before finally she strapped on her guitar to play a brand new unrecorded piece, “Shut Eye.” After a soft start, it too veered off into a surprise of jig-inducing rhythm. “Bad As You” had an attitude-laden, bluesy grittiness that housed an underlying electronica quality—contrasting breaks into softer segments—that took us on a trip through varying textures of sound.
The band then waved their goodbyes leaving Ferguson to sing her final song a cappella… another from Chameleon entitled, “Donal Og.” She pulled out all the stops—beautifully sung trills, sustains, and flips, sung with amazing control and ease—as she travelled through a traditional Celtic melancholy melody. The rain that began seemed to add to the music’s free spirit and a positive energy blanketed the crowd as they adorned Lindsay Ferguson with a final show of love.