Tag Archives: Edmonton Folk Fest

Top Picks from EFMF 2017

Main Stage

Sable: This was the first Folk Fest where I could feel my stamina slipping. Whether it was coming off from a OSHEAGA-packed weekend in Montreal or just general summer lethargy, I had to shake myself awake in the Saturday afternoon heat and will myself to get out of bed on Sunday. However, I was still there for a majority of the festival and I was happy to soak in the tunes and the rays to fuel me for another year.


Twila: This year in addition to my Folk on the Road duties, I also volunteered for the Greetings crew. The extra-early starts combined with the late nights of photos etc. definitely took a toll on me—meaning I ended up taking a few serious tarp naps (sometimes when I thought I’d just rest my eyes).

Note: Twila’s sister, Ardelle, took this accompanying pic of Twila passed out with a death grip on her coffee thermos.

Favourite Festival Moment

Twila: Having just mentioned that I took an unintended tarp nap (or two) and the fact that I am still recovering from lack of sleep I’d still have to say that my favourite festival moments all derived from the camaraderie of volunteering. The people I met while volunteering were interesting and all had fantastic tales of folk fests past. Most of my folkie friends have been volunteering for 10+ years, so I have a ways to go before I unlock that level of volunteer achievement, but I think that if they’ll have me that I will be back again next year.

Sable: Folk on the Road has been attending the EFMF for the past years now as media but this year I feel like we really hit our stride in the media tent. I enjoyed saying hello to all the familiar faces and volunteers in the media tent day after day. The volunteers do an amazing job of keeping a quiet and safe place for media to work as well as liaising with artists and their agents to book interviews. I wish I had this crew with me throughout the year to follow-up on e-mails and phone calls. It makes doing FOTR, which is a volunteer and passion driven project as well, so much easier in achieving our goal of sharing the work of fantastic artists.


Favourite New Discovery

Sable: For me it’s a close call between Marlon Williams  and Darlingside but I think Darlingside wins out for me this time. I love the cooperative use of the microphone which creates a dreamy, choral sound with the soft strums of their acoustic. They sound like one musical organism when they’re all singing and standing together like that. I hope this is not the last time I see them perform live.

Twila: I was also really delighted by Darlingside’s harmonies, but Ten Strings and a Goat Skin get my vote for my favourite new musical discovery at EFMF 2017. The trio was having such a good time, you couldn’t help but be pulled into the joy in their music making. Also I loved how they slipped between different instrumental sets and songs, with ease. I can hardly wait to see them play again next weekend at the Bear Creek Folk Fest!


Favourite Workshop

Twila: STAGE 3, Northern Exposure, Friday August 11, 2017. [Colleen Brown, The Jerry Cans, Dylan Menzie, Altameda]

There is a reason that The Jerry Cans won EFMF’s emerging artist award … musically they make everything better. At this session, they jammed along with everyone, creating a truly beautiful folk fest workshop experience. Just thinking back on how The Jerry Cans fit themselves into this workshop brings a smile to my face.

Sable: STAGE 6, Sing Out, Friday August 11, 2017. [Birds of Chicago, Darlingside, Brandi Carlile, Rhiannon Giddens]

There was a moment of utter vocal duo beauty from Allison Russell from Birds of Chicago and Rhiannon Giddens during that workshop. It was the perfect vocal pairing and they knew it too as they gazes at each other interweaving their melodic and harmonic lines for Barley by Birds of Chicago.

See you next year on the Hill for #EFMF2018!


An Interview with Dylan Menzie

A few thousand kilometres from his home province of PEI, Dylan Menzie, 22, arrives in Edmonton to play his largest Folk Music Festival to date. “The energy at this festival is unlike anything I’ve felt before. I’ve heard on the Sunday night finale, when all the candles come out and thousands singing along together, I’m excited to see that. I’ve never played to that many people before,” he reveals before continuing, “it is such a relaxing environment even though there is thousands of people.”

Continue reading An Interview with Dylan Menzie

An Interview with Chloe Albert at EFMF


Chloe Albert enters the media tent with a sense of exterior calm amongst the festival frenzy. Numerous accolades surround Albert, an Edmonton based singer-songwriter, with a 2014 Juno Nominee and Western Canadian Music and Edmonton Music Awards for her most recent album, Dreamcatcher.

This is Albert’s second time performing at the Edmonton Folk Music Festival; she notes with a smile that the first time she was on Gallagher Hill, she was just a bundle of nerves. She exudes the patience of an Artist that has the stamina to build her career in gradual manner.

Tell me about a formative musical moment in your upbringing.

C: For me, actually, it was Lilith Fair, probably around 15 years ago. Right around when I bought my first guitar was when Lilith Fair happened. There were all these women and artists I really loved and looked up to. The merging of those two things together at the same time was when I got excited about it and thought: “I’d really love to do this!” I was always really shy and performing was not something I did otherwise. It was struggle to get out but I love the rush of it.

Are you ever surprised about people’s connection with you through your music?

C: That’s my favorite thing ever. Even at this Festival, I still have this idea in my head that I must know everybody who listens to my music because I must have a relatively small fanbase. However, CKUA has a really broad reach. Even at this Festival I’ve had people say they’ve been listening for years. A kind gentleman yesterday, said to me: “your voice has stopped me in my tracks so many times over the years,” that still surprises me and makes me feel really good. A lot of times you really don’t have a way of knowing. Not everyone is on social media and even if they do they might not reach out.

What made you decide to pursue music as a profession?

C: It really changed year to year. Fifteen is where I thought: “Oh, I want to do this.” I was really naïve, I didn’t know the road ahead of me that was awaiting. This is embarrassing to admit, but I kinda grew up in a time where my favorite singer/songwriters were discovered singing on a street corner. I wasn’t too worried about it. I played some open mics and I was interested in traveling. I wasn’t too worried about pounding the pavement and thought, “someone will discover me!” Then I put out my first record and that changed things a lot.

Then I took music in college. I was in college taking a Bachelor of Arts program, I felt like a fish out of water. I enjoyed it but I didn’t feel like I was in the right place. My mom suggested the music program cause I’ve always played music. I wasn’t hoping to go to school for music but it ended up being the best. That’s where I got my first glimpse of the idea of playing music and not necessarily having to be a superstar. Many of my professors have been jazz musicians and played music for their whole lives in Edmonton and Alberta. I remember thinking, “that’s so cool!”

I have a local band I play in here with some of my best girlfriends. Now it’s really nice because when I’m taking a break, I had a baby last year, not taking a break from my own stuff but focusing on writing and not performing. And this band can keep me busy and pay some bills. It’s been an evolution. Between my first and second record I knew that [a career as a professional musician] was possible and this was what I wanted to do.

It sounds like post-secondary education seemed like a positive move in your training.

C: Just the level of musicianship was so high and was something to strive for. Hearing that practical side of making a living while playing music. It was really positive.

Even the world of grant writing was important to learn about, which as an independent artist, you really need to know. That was really important because grants funded both my albums. It gives you the power back from “maybe I’ll get discovered someday!” to “I’m going to apply for some grants and I’m going to get the work.”

Motherhood is a new component into your various roles. Do you enjoy the diversity and change each of your roles offer?

C: I knew I wanted to continue to play when I had a baby. Singing and playing is the same as exercise, if you stop you gotta to start from scratch again and you’re out of shape. It’s definitely a juggle that I’m still adjusting to. I’m still trying to do everything I was doing before and obviously there’s this beautiful, human being that I’m taking care of so that takes a large portion of my time. The first year I was putting no pressure on myself. I was enjoying motherhood and performing every couple of weeks. Now I’m starting to find the balance. He’s 1.5 now so it’s a little more structured. I’ll probably be figuring out this juggle for the next while. It’s good, it’s fun!

Do you feel like motherhood has introduced a new perspective to your work?

C: Not so much. The most common question I get asked is: “now that you have had a baby, has this inspired a whole bunch of new songs?” Not yet. Well, like I said, for the first year I didn’t write at all.

I just attended a writing workshop in Nashville last week and I found that when I was focused on it and delving into it, I find that I do have a lot to say and maybe I haven’t realized it. But now it’s all starting to bud.

Do you have general guidelines in your songwriting session?

C: The most important ingredient for me is the inspiration behind the song. There has to be this inexplicable thing when I’m playing my guitar. It could be a lyric or a melody. You either get a feeling or you don’t about it. That is the sacred special piece of the song. What often happens, the way I write, I get that bout of inspiration that comes to me and from there I work outwards from there lyrically and melodically. Sometimes when you’re writing, you can lose the essence of why you’re writing. Sometimes in co-writing or if you go back to the song many times and re-write it, you can lose the essence. Not getting too caught up in, for example, as far as lyrics are concerned, there can be a lot of rules.

But really, there are no rules, because it’s art. In the last five years taking songwriting classes, really focusing on a lyric needing to be a certain way, I find sometimes you can compromise the essence of trying to make it fit into a box. That’s another learning and juggling act to dance around that fine line. I’m really pulling back now and realizing I was focusing too much on framework and structure and sometimes that can take away from the magic of the song. What I found generally speaking is that there are always exceptions to rules. You think, “that song one of my favorite and it doesn’t follow any of those rules.”

Do you have any checks to see if pieces work?

C: Before I used to be: “when a song is done, it’s done!” But now I’m more open to people’s takes and opinions. I want to be making music people enjoy. I’ve been writing a few new songs for the new record and I’ve been doing that playing it for friends or sending voice memos to family. I’ve also been trying them at smaller shows to get some feedback.

What do you enjoy about being a working musician based out of Edmonton?

C: Surprisingly, people think of Alberta of being oil country but we have a phenomenal Arts community. Having toured Canada now and traveled as an independent musician – that was when I realized how great Alberta is. Calgary has six folk clubs, Edmonton has two or three, that’s more than most cities!

The CKUA Radio Network is a huge part of keeping this circuit alive amongst folk independent artists. I find Alberta has been really great. The other is the corporate world. If you are dabbling in both, like I am, it’s really great here. There’s a wealth of Arts funding.

With social media coming into play, there was a time 10 years ago that I did feel the pressure to move to a bigger centre like Toronto, Vancouver, or out of Canada. But now, I feel like it’s not necessary. There’s the internet and you can share your music that way.

What is moving you forward in the next few years?

C: The thing that really drives me is the fulfillment of creativity. That’s why I love songwriting. I hope to continue to have a rich experience of collaborating with people and writing music. Ultimately, I’d like to be playing for larger audiences and touring more.

It is evident that this calm resilience and pursuit of songwriting excellent will continue to fuel Albert’s artistic work into the future.

Delicious music

So I feel a bit like a kid on Christmas Eve. One more sleep until the 2014 Edmonton Folk Fest begins. This is incredibly exciting.

I updated my EFMF app while we were in Vancouver, and have been playing with the schedule and artist list ever since. There are more than a couple artists that I want to see, I may have gone a little favourite-ing happy. In the name of brevity I’ve just picked a single workshop that I will be at; a number of my app-favourited artists will be on that stage together, we call that efficiency folks. So without any further ado:

Stage 6 –‘Let’s Talk About in the Morning’ with 100 Mile House, Dave Gunning, Parker Millsap and Parsonsfield.

This workshop has an interesting list of ingredients:

1. I’ve heard Edmonton’s local 100 Mile House play before, and was hooked by their live performance. Since they can entertain a full house at the Artery on a sweltering summer night, Sunday morning at Folk Fest should be a breeze.

2. Next we have the American contributions of Parker Millsap and Parsonsfield. I’ve not heard either in live performance but the YouTube and Soundcloud’s are solid.

3. Add Nova Scotia’s Dave Gunning whose name is continually being tossed around with the likes of Stan RogersGordon Lightfoot and David Francey.

4. Mix together on Stage 6, and we’ve got Sunday’s musical brunch.

I sure hope that it is a recipe for brilliance!

Not On the Road Again

This is our ‘down’ weekend. The Edmonton Folk Fest isn’t until next weekend, so this is the first Saturday in a month that I haven’t woken up rather early and hauled a blue tarp and bag of evening clothing to a main stage before settling in at a side stage with my earplugs in, sunscreen (and/or raincoat) on and camera fully charged -I don’t know what to do with myself.

The driving portion of our project wrapped up this past Monday morning when we rolled into Edmonton minutes after CBC R2 morning shifted over to Tempo. According to the odometer we had traveled 9,974 km since setting off to Mariposa on July 2nd, but it sure felt like it was further. Our journey out to Ontario followed by B.C. seems a bit like a dream and I can honestly say that I met some really interesting and friendly characters along the way.

Each city has its own flavour and that is reflected in the folk festivals as well. In Vancouver the passion for music, community and life in general was palpable. As we camped out on the shores of English Bay people were not only interested in the music on stage, but chatted with those around them. Fast forward a week and the same could be said of the Calgarians packed onto Prince’s Island, but in Calgary there was a distinct Alberta-ness (the exact nature of which I can’t quite describe, I mean there was probably as much, if not more, country music programmed at the Winnipeg Folk Fest than in Calgary so it wasn’t like there was a run on cowboy boots or hats that made Calgary seem very Albertan).

Although the road trip is over, and I might have neared music saturation with over 16 days worth of live music. I am excited for the EFMF 2014. Excited to see my hometown festival through the filter of the four proceeding festivals, to see some of the artists that I caught at earlier festivals again, to have the emcees shout ‘Edmonton’ rather than one of the other cities, to discover new music which has to last me until the next festival season but most of all to sit on the hill with my family and friends watching the sun set on the Edmonton skyline while all around us lights up with thousands of tiny candles. It’s an indescribable moment.

I’ll see you on the hill.