Tag Archives: Ross Ainslie

Edmonton Folk Fest 2015 Roundup

With so many options to choose from it was: 1. hard to see everything we wanted (Wish I Was There), 2. great to be surprised by discovering a new artist (New Discovery), and 3. sink into the magic of the workshop stage melting pot (Favourite Workshop). We’ve rounded up some thoughts while reflecting back on the weekend that was the 2015 Edmonton Folk Music Festival.

Wish I Was There

Twila: I abruptly abandoned some of my workshop attendance plans on Sunday afternoon due to the unrelenting fabulous weather (to quote an acquaintance I ran into earlier this week “Yeah, I was at Folk fest … I have the sunburn to prove it!”) I opted to find stages with shade. So rather than going to see the Globalization workshop on the always sunny Stage 2, I camped out in the shade and took in The Milk Carton Kids concert at Stage 3 and while I can’t regret the simultaneously hilarious and beautifully performed Milk Carton Kids concert, I do wish I had been able to see Danny Michel, Brian McNeill, Hanggai, Ross Ainslie and Jarlath Henderson navigate a workshop stage under the rather broad term of Globalization.

Sable: I wished I could have seen that pre-mainstage magic go down with Brandi Carlisle, Matt Andersen, The Wind and the Wave, and Gregory Alan Isakov. I always love it when Folk Fest is able to slot one of their headliners into a late afternoon workshop session. Plus, Andersen was slaying it in session throughout the entire weekend. He led a bluesy Stand by Me on a Sunday afternoon and I found him to be the perfect musician to toss into the workshop mix.



New Discovery

Twila: Helene Blum & Harald Haugaard. These musicians are so incredibly talented that it is almost unreal! Blum’s voice has an impressive clear quality and her capacity to communicate the song’s story with the audience even when singing mostly in Danish to a predominately English speaking audience is outstanding. Likewise Haugaard’s ability to interact with the audience and other musicians on stage with his fiddle is extraordinary and seemingly effortless. Combine the two and they are unstoppable – the melodies and unfamiliar words they shared this past weekend have seeped into my subconscious, taken root and have left me with a strong desire to visit Denmark as soon as possible.

Sable: Hands downs, it was Braden Gates. It was a pleasure to hear his intuitive musical playing and lyrical sentiments paired perfectly with his acoustic guitar. I feel like he’s a wise voice singing to me from a youthful form. How is it that I’ve never heard of him all this time and he’s just from Ft. Sask Alberta!?! I will be keeping him on my local musician radar.

Favourite Workshop

Twila: Legacies Sunday on Stage 5. Brian McNeill, The Slocan Ramblers, Helene Blum and Harald Haugaard, Ross Ainslie and Jarlath Henderson. Magic – there are no two ways about it. The almost instant amalgamation of these four musical groups into one massive ensemble with each group taking in turn the leadership role was absolute magic. It was an intense hour and a half – and I wish it was longer.

Sable: Transatlantic Crossing with The Milk Carton Kids, I’m With Her, Eddie Berman, and I Draw Slow was the best way to finish off my workshop streak on Sunday afternoon.I loved how Kenneth and Joey were recruiting different ladies from I’m With Her to fill out the top chords in their tight-knit harmonies. The perfect collaborative voice.

“Goodbye Folk Fest, see you next year!”

To quote the little kids who wandered past me as the final chord of “Four Strong Winds” echoed over Gallagher Park … “Goodbye Folk Fest, see you next year!”

Winnipeg What a Whirlwind

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.