After spending an evening curled up with my Winnipeg Folk Festival app, listening to the Soundcloud clips, reading Artist biographies, and starring my must-see sessions. Here is where you can find me at the Winnipeg Folk Festival:
Michael Bernard Fitzgerald has been through Edmonton many times for me to catch him live in concert and I was able to see David Myles live at communitea in Camrose this past Fall. I am excited to see them on stage together to see what they come up with in addition to JP Hoe, Sweet Alibit, and the Bros. Landreth. Plus, Shady Grove is one of the stage in the woodland area so I will be looking forward to some shade mid-Saturday afternoon.
This workshop session is exactly the way it is. Deep Dark Woods + Sheepdogs on a stage together? I am there. Plus, I feel extremely connected to Saskatchewan after driving through that golden prairie landscape on my way over to Winnipeg from Edmonton.
Maybe it was the numerous years singing in treble voiced choirs but I love the sound of female singer-songwriters. I have been a fan of Little Miss Higgins, and Ruth Moody’s work in the Wailin’ Jennys for many years so to hear them on stage together, in addition established female voices, is a must see for me.
A folkie must pay homage where homage is due. The death of Pete Seeger was a significant musical loss this past year. There is no place I would rather be than at this workshop. I have sense that everybody at the Folk Fest will be thinking the same thing so I will be lucky to get a spot. It doesn’t hurt that headlining names like Ani DiFranco are on the workshop roster. I am also excited to hear Elephant Revival for the first time live.
So after hatching this crazy plan nearly a year ago, I find myself amid piles of clothing and camping supplies wondering what to expect from Mariposa, destination number one. The furthest distance to travel from Edmonton on this adventure, Mariposa has taken on a bit of a mystical quality for me, even though I can count the things I know about it on one hand (without using my thumb):
All and all, not a particularly illustrious base of knowledge, but hey, everyone has to start somewhere.
Digging further than my personal cache of information, I found out the Grande Dame of Canada’s Folk Fest’s line-up will be anchored by women of influence in both culture and music. But more than just the great music that will be infusing the air at Mariposa, what makes this festival so enticing for performers and audience members alike?
Mariposa’s image has a bit of an underlying edge of education. We all like to understand what’s going on in general, and in music it’s no different. The Hand’s On Experiences area promises interactive workshops of drum circles, singing, crafting, dance and more. In addition to the Hand’s On Experiences is the Ukulele-Building Workshops on Saturday and Sunday morning. Mariposa U, run in conjunction with the festival and Lakehead University but taking place in downtown Orillia before the gates open on Friday, offers interactive workshops with festival performers and other professional musicians. Attendees are warned that “All workshops are interactive, instructional and, most of all, participatory: come to work and learn, not to be entertained!”
Then there are archives to visit, yoga or tai chi in the morning. And of course the music. Mariposa is known to boast an eclectic array of talent, and this year is no different. Some favourites of mine from past folk fests are going to be at Mariposa so I will have to fit my visits to the Hand’s On Experiences area and Ukulele-Building Workshops around them, but a little careful planning and I should be able to get to everything.
Mariposa promises to be an unforgettable experience, and I hope that it will never lose that mystical quality that invades my anticipation for it…if you need me I’ll be building a ukulele.
Looking forward to hearing, among others, these three acts:
I consider myself a relative newcomer to the Folk Fest crowd. I didn’t grow up in the Folk Festival culture. My first Folk Festival experience was at the 2005 Edmonton Folk Music Festival. My family never attended any outdoor music festivals even though extra-curricular music studies were valued. I can still hear my mother questioning my sanity for being willing to sit outside all day in the sun just to listen to music and feed the mosquitoes. I was reluctant to purchase my first weekend pass. I thought I would buy the evening ticket to ease my transition to the folkie world. However, lured by the peer pressure of more folkie-oriented friends, I decided to purchase a four-day pass since I was guaranteed that the afternoon workshop sessions are “where the magic happens”. I have not looked back.
During my Edmonton Folk Fest attendance over the years, I began to notice a continuing trend of Winnipeg inspiration. It is a location that has cultivated many Canadian talents and provide inspirations to other Artists. Danny Michel recorded his live album at the Winnipeg West End Cultural Centre and one of the lines from Dala‘s song Anywhere Under the Moon is: “The last power line, my cell phone died/I don’t even know your number/So I drive all the way to Winnipeg.” Even local Winnipeg band, The Weakerthans, communicates the poignant phrase, “I hate Winnipeg,” in their song One Great City. From my perspective, Winnipeg has a mystical music quality to it.
What is it about this prairie community that has captured the hearts of so many singer/songwriters? What is it about the Winnipeg Arts scene where it is able to cultivate such talent? My goal this next week is to investigate the folkie allure of the Winnipeg Folk Fest. I will be traveling with my fellow Edmonton folkie, Twila, to the Winnipeg Folk Festival. Neither of us have been to the Winnipeg Folk Festival before. We will update readers on our roadtrip and festival experiences this week through tweets,posts, and pictures. Follow us in our experiences as we adventure beyond Gallagher Hill towards Birds Hill Provincial Park.
For most young singers, if their voice teacher handed them three books of folk music and told them to record a C.D., they may dismiss their suggestion with an air of disbelief… and question their teacher’s sanity. However, this was not the case with singer Adrienne Findlay when her voice teacher, Heather Johnson, made such a statement. Instead, Findlay felt another dominant emotion at the prospect of recording a C.D.: excitement.
In addition to being a Cantilon Choirs chorister for many years, Findlay was also a private voice student of Johnson’s. Findlay cycled through the typical song genres of many budding singers, but when Johnson began introducing folk songs, Findlay realized that folk music was her niche. Findlay reveals Johnson’s role in inspiring the production of this album.
“She was at the very beginning of it. From me learning how to sing in the first place and introducing me to this type of music and then to get this project started. Nothing of this would have come close to happening without her help and guidance,” she states.
Thus, after receiving those songbooks from Johnson last September, Findlay began learning folk songs leading up to December. At the start of this year, Findlay met Jia Jia Yong, a long-time student of local harpist Keri Lynn Zwicker, to begin rehearsing the songs with harp accompaniment. Findlay describes a musically generative relationship with Yong.
“We can just be sitting there and she can just play something and it works. She comes up with amazing accompaniment. She’s a great person to play with as a singer. She can tell if I’m going to be slowing down, or holding notes longer, and she can tell that with my body language and breathing. She’s as much as wrapped up in the song as I am.”
Findlay’s love of folk singing is due to the malleable nature of folk music.
“Every time I sing one of the songs it’s different than the time before. You can add little ornamentations and have different musical arrangements. And it can be changing and evolving but it’s so personal. A lot of the songs are about real-life and it’s easy to put yourself in that place. I really feel it. I can then play with the songs in the way that they speak to me. And I would do that differently from anybody else. Anybody can take these songs and put their special mark on them. It makes our version different than anybody else’s version. You get this beautiful, basic, melody and you get to make it completely your song,” she reveals.
Some of the tracks on the album particularly close to Findlay’s heart are “Rich and Rare,” one of the first traditional folk songs she has performed, and “Leaving of Liverpool,” which is one of two a cappella songs on the album, “Lagan Love” being the other. It was important for Findlay to include a cappella recordings because this is how she first began performing her folk repertoire. While she notes that it is more exposed, and naturally, more scary, she loves the vocal freedom to experiment with the song.
As for the future, Findlay realizes that the most important thing right now is to just keep performing and moving forwards. She does reveal a future aspiration of performing at the Edmonton Folk Music Festival. However, she humbly balances her expectations: “If it’s something that moves forward, great, if not, it’s an awesome project that we’ve done together and a great learning experience.”
Their C.D release party will be an opportunity for audiences to hear Findlay and Yong make their official live music debut in Edmonton. Their CD release will be a casual drop-in music event complete with food, wine, and short musical sets throughout the evening. Upon taking a preliminary listen to Findlay and Yong’s refreshing interpretations of this folk music repertoire, I am certain this C.D. is bound to be more than just another learning experience.
—This entry is cross-posted on The Choir Girl Blog—