Top Picks from Winnipeg Folk Fest

Winnipeg, Winnipeg, Winnipeg…five days of amazing music, new friends and good times. We’ve compiled our top picks before heading even further west and out to the left coast for Vancouver Folk Fest. So without further ado:

Wish I Was There

Twila: I wish I could have made it to ‘The Bluestem Special’ Sunworkshop including the Sunparlour Players, Boy & BearThe Wilderness of Manitoba and The Strumbellas. I caught most of the groups for a few songs here and there and the possibility of them jamming together, makes me wish that I was there.

Sable: I was overwhelmed by the solid showing of Manitoba talent at the Winnipeg Folk Festival. Seriously, what is in the water in Winnipeg? There is a constant cultivation of amazing musical talent in Manitoba. JP Hoe’s truthful tone in performance during the Cover Me session had he hooked while he was singing a Bonnie Raitt tune. That was a sheer folk fest moment. I just wish I could have caught his concert session on Sunday afternoon to tuck into more of his own tunes.

New Discovery

Twila: The Martha Redbone Roots Project.  Hearing their workshop with Buffy Sainte-Marie was absolutely phenomenal. The music was tight and the message was clear. Definitely worth checking out.

Sable: Jake Shumbukuro. He made the ukulele sound like such a diverse array of instruments like harp, electric guitar, and koto. I never thought a tiny ukulele could command an entire festival audience but you couldn’t hear a tarp crackle when he took Mainstage on Saturday night. It was just silence. He had a great balance of his own compositions like Blue Roses Falling as well as inventive covers of Bohemian Rhapsody and My Guitar Gently Weeps.

Favourite Workshop

Twila: No surprises here, my favourite workshop was ‘We Shall Overcome: Pete Seeger Tribute’. Concluding the Sunday festival workshop sessions with Joan Baez leading hundreds, if not thousands, of folkies swaying back and forth belting out Seeger’s ‘We Shall Overcome’. Is an event that will not soon disappear from my memory.

Sable: My favorite session was Cover Me. Although it may be strange for me to pick a cover session where none of the Artists played their own tunes, I love hearing the voice of an Artist come out in a piece by someone else. There is a risk factor involved since audience members are likely recognize the original in another form but it is that very comparison factor that increases the performance pressure. If somebody can adapt a cover and do it well in their own style, it takes talent. As well, the spirit of collaboration during a cover tune is more acceptable since everybody feels free to add their instrument to the mix since it really is just about having fun. David Myles, JP Hoe, Sweet Alibi, Michael Bernard Fitzgerald, and the Bros. Landreth did a killer job and a stand out number was when David Myles started a Drake’s tune (in b minor) Hold On We’re Going Home. I loved seeing  MBF jump up to join Myles on the lyrics and relief across Myles’ face because he had lyrical back-up.

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