Kim Churchill Main Stage, Guelph ON, July 27

Kim Churchill Main Stage, Guelph ON, July 27
Photo: Atsuko Kobasigawa
Generally, when one thinks of a one-man band, they probably imagine some sort of hackneyed performer, playing multiple instruments at a birthday party or county fair for mere spectacle rather than musicianship. However, when it comes to Australian folk-rocker Kim Churchill, never has someone playing guitar, harmonica, wind chimes and a bass drum at the same time sounded so badass.

While other performers languished in lacklustre turnouts during their mid-day sets on the main stage for most of the weekend, a massive crowd turned out early to catch Churchill in action. Thankfully for them, he was on top of his game.

Coming across as more of a one-man Led Zeppelin than the peace-loving troubadour his sun bleached hair and radiant smile paints him as, Churchill and his masterful fretwork got the crowd moving early on with a bluesier rendition of finger-picking scorcher "Smile as He Goes Home" and Silence/Win stomper "Window to the Sky."

If anyone in attendance had any doubts about this guy's guitar chops, "Bathed in Black" silenced them, slicing through the overcast malaise settling in over the families near the back with its stop-start riffing and vocal effects.

After thanking the crowd for their unending support during his hour-long set and describing it as one of the highlights of his entire career, Churchill took a moment to look back at folk music's roots with a blistering rendition of Bob Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues," substituting its original honky-tonk jangle with a series to Tom Morello-esque riffs. While not as powerful lyrically as the solo icon who wrote that tune, Churchill's musicianship still makes him one to watch in the new generation of singer-songwriters.

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