Waiting for the Folk fest line-ups to be published can often feel like we’ve been transported to C.S. Lewis’ Narnia when it was always winter and never Christmas. But never fear -Folk fest prep doesn’t start the morning of the first festival day (or even ticket day [for truth Edmonton Folkies!]), weeks -even months before you can get into the festival spirit.
A week before cinnamon hearts and chocolate boxes go on sale is a small scale celebration known to insiders (read: me and anyone that I can rope in) as ‘Half-Way-to-Folk-Fest’. On that first weekend of February -Edmonton folkies can rest assured that the time between folk fests is waning. We now can look ahead to next year’s festival knowing it is a mere 6 months away. The big black Xs that get drawn through calendar boxes are now counting down ever closer to the best weekend of the year…
What to do to celebrate?
Myself and some friends have been known to dress in our festival gear (floppy straw hats included), lay tarps (in lovely central-heated living rooms), eat snacks, drink tea & coffee, visit, listen to music and conclude the evening with a candle light, sing-a-long version of ‘Four String Winds’. But apparently festival reenactment isn’t for everyone, so some other options for pre-festival activities include:
- Folk clubs/house concerts -the folk scene isn’t just for summer, these artists tour and perform ALL the time. Try to catch up with some of your favorite performers and maybe a few new ones. This winter reconnaissance will definitely help when you need to prioritize your festival workshop schedule.
- CDs/mp3s/YouTube etc. -for those of you who don’t live near a super wonderful or even moderately decent music scene, I would like you to meet the internet -your new best friend. Read up on some old favorites, see who they are touring with, listen on YouTube, buy their albums, expand your listening…and again it will help you make the all important summer scheduling decisions.
- Radio – those radio DJs wield some amazing power, helping to guide musical tastes and set musical trends. Find a good folk-roots show -nationally CBC’s ‘Deep Roots’ is amazing! And lots of independent stations have a few hours a week dedicated to domesticate and international folk artists, you can often find these radio programs listed as sponsors in the back of last year’s festival program. Go ahead, tune in.
- Plan games/activities for your road trip of awesomeness to said summer festival.
- A tried and true favorite of us at Folk On the Road is: Dream Workshop Session (workshop leader must be identified)…its kind of like Fantasy Football but with music. Get creative, restrictions such as requiring all the performers to currently be alive add an extra challenge because apparently you can’t always have Stan Rogers and/or Woodie Guthrie on stage…/
- Epic playlists. Google map your route, figure out driving times and structure your playlist accordingly…if you don’t let yourself duplicate music suddenly you have to be very selective of what hours of your drive you want certain music to appear in. Bonus points for having appropriately topical music miraculous booming from your car speakers without having to push any extra buttons (example Corb Lund’s ‘Long Gone to Saskatchewan’ clicking on as you drive out of the gas station in Lloydminster). If planning a commute with a large group of people, I suggest a Google document that all or those of you with reliable musical tastes can update.