Vancouver rocked out at their 37th annual folk fest, until the lantern parade led us (quietly, noise by-laws and all) out of Jericho Park.
After a busy three day weekend at the Vancouver Folk Music Festival, here are our top picks from the schedule:
Wish I Was There
Sable: I wish I could have checked out Fish & Bird concert on Sunday morning at the Folk Fest. I was impressed with the gentle strums on their instruments and the very West Coast influences in their songwriting.
Twila: I wish I could have been at the CountryFolk workshop featuring Roger Knox, Jon Langford & Jean Cook, The Honeycutters, Leonard Sumner and Suzie Vinnick. The Honeycutters won their way into my heart with a Stan Rogers reference and some good old fashioned twang on Sunday morning, and now I’m kicking myself for missing any of their appearances in Vancouver.
Sable: James Hill was my new Folk Fest find this time around. I actually heard him briefly in Winnipeg as a tweener but at this festival I was actually heard him play a solid sampling of songs. It was magic hearing some ukulele influenced by the sounds of Cole Porter and Irving Berlin in his piece, Lying in Wait. I’ll be excited to hear his new album release in Fall 2014.
Twila: Stephen Kellogg. A solid singer-songwriter with a voice which is both comforting but commanding, sadly I only caught a tiny sampling of him at the Playing With Fire workshop, but I will certainly be looking for more of his music in the future.
Sable: Jenny Ritter, James Hill, and Eliza Gilkyson had my drowsy ears entranced at 10 AM on Sunday morning. There were some killer electric guitar and fiddle solos interspersed throughout the workshop set. There was also a great crowd sing-along moment with Ritter’s We Must Sing near the end. It was the perfect festival wake-up call.
Twila: Straight Up. Both a way to order a drink, and the name of my favourite workshop session in Vancouver. Winnipeg’s Oh My Darling played host to our southern neighbours the Lost Bayou Ramblers and Langhorne Slim & the Law. It was pure Canadian folk fest magic. A little bit of jamming, and lots of listening and appreciation between the musicians on stage.
I can’t even begin to put into words the epic experience that was the Winnipeg Folk Festival. We camped in the Festival Campground. That means that the party and music didn’t stop with the 12 hours of programming on the festival site, it just went on and on and on. I never got more than 4 hours of sleep at a time, and not because the pop up drum circles and wandering minstrels were keeping me awake (I can sleep through almost anything) but because there was always something to so, fire dancers to see or at the very least a song to sing. You started to feel like a little kid who wouldn’t nap because they were afraid of missing something.
Wednesday night found us at Vinyl Village jamming into the wee hours of the morning on tambourines, washboards and even a didgeridoo. Pacts for learning campfire sing-a-long songs were made under the prairie moon, and ‘The Weight’ by The Band was belted out more than once. Then there was the night that we got a tour of the campground through the generosity of some new friends, which involved fire dancers, a campfire side concert by the Riel Gentleman’s Choir, a random stranger roped into free-styling lyrics over another guitarist’s strummed acoustic chords, and the creation of some epic Prom worthy outfits at Wardrobe. The adventures that you could get entangled in at the Campground were almost enough to make you wish that the Festival programming wasn’t so amazing.
If the main stage acts weren’t to your taste you could head over to the Big Bluestem day stage for Big Blue @ Night for something completely different. Video art projections created by Natalie Baird and Kenneth Lavallee were shown on the overhang of the stage, and a crush of bodies danced to exhaustion in front of the stage. When the Mexican Institute Of Sound took to the stage on Saturday night a prairie field was transformed into a techno dance party, while on Friday The Strumbellas and The Sheepdogs drew crowds of fans that rivaled the main stage events of Hurray for the Riff Raff and Baskery.
Although the weather took a turn for the worse on Sunday (by the end of the day workshops my hands were actually blue from the cold) there is not a place I can imagine wanting to be more in early July than camped out in a prairie field, drifting off to dream while serenaded by the sounds of revelers returning from a full day of inspiring performances.
Blessed with sunshine and a bit of a breeze, the third day of the Winnipeg Folk Fest was a place for daydreaming and dragonfly visitors. The workshops started today, and won’t stop until Sunday main stage. It’s been great.