>> The clouds were dark purples and blues and the wind whipped around as we parked at Gratwick Waterfront Park in North Tonawanda, Buffalo. It threatened to rain. This, however, did not stop the beer and wine enthusiasts and those excited by the prospect of hearing Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear and Lord Huron perform!
The park was lined with tents, which formed on three sides a huge open-sided rectangle, the stage completed the fourth side. Each tent for a different brewery, cidery, or winery. When you checked in after entering the park they handed you a tastefully-designed glass that said Brews and Wines on the Water, with a rad little graphic of a beer and a wine glass cheers-ing! I was ready to try some ciders! I went by MackJac Cider, where I tried both Empire Red and Black Currant Passion. Empire Red tasted like liquefied candy apples and it was downright DELICIOUS! The Black Currant Passion tasted like a handful of a mix of berries, and chill! Next, I made my way over to the OSB ciderworks tent, which is where I tried a chili pepper cider! Let me tell you, MAN was that eye-watering! I love all things spicy but this was on another level. The afterburn reminded me of ghost pepper chips. I still can’t decide whether I liked it or not but I’m sure glad I tried it!
People were milling from tent to tent - drinking, dancing, laughing, and besotting all their troubles. After
wandering around I stopped to take in the view of the waterfront. The waves rippling, wind blowing fiercely, and the rain was DEFINITELY coming. The threatening weather did not stop Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear from climbing the stage and singing to those who stoically stood or defiantly danced in the pouring rain. Those who were tremored of getting wet stood under any tent they could find, even the tasting tents! I would be lying if I said I didn’t stand under one of the tents. After what seemed like 6 inches of piercing wet pain, the storm subsided, the clouds skirted away, and everyone came out of hiding to hear Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear finish their set. People screamed, “MAMA” in delight and Ruth Ward smiled every time. Their hit “Silent Movies” got everyone up dancing and singing along, happy that the torrents had cleared. When they began to sing their Fleetwood Mac cover “Dreams”, I was a little worried they would jinx us with these lyrics but the rain held off. It was surreal to hear such a hauntingly beautiful cover.
Lord Huron hit the stage next. Ben Schneider, the lead singer, jumped up on stage and walked over to the microphone and said, “Alright! Let’s do the damn thing!” The band followed suit by picking up their instruments and playing. It was a folk-lovers dream. Everything fell right into place; their music was the perfect soundtrack to the waves rippling, clouds clearing, and the wind blowing around the sweet smell of hops. The “Ends of the Earth” began to play and everyone seemed lost in the music, I wanted to hope they were all thinking of someone they deeply cared for as they sang the lyrics, “To the ends of the earth, would you follow me, There's a world that was meant for our eyes to see”. Goosebumps attested to my almost crying. The combination of this beautiful waterfront location, the alcohol in my blood, and my love of folk music was overwhelming. I was blissful and worry-free for the rest of their set, standing and listening in absolute awe.<<