Tag Archives: Sunparlour Players

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.

Top Picks from Winnipeg Folk Fest

Winnipeg, Winnipeg, Winnipeg…five days of amazing music, new friends and good times. We’ve compiled our top picks before heading even further west and out to the left coast for Vancouver Folk Fest. So without further ado:

Wish I Was There

Twila: I wish I could have made it to ‘The Bluestem Special’ Sunworkshop including the Sunparlour Players, Boy & BearThe Wilderness of Manitoba and The Strumbellas. I caught most of the groups for a few songs here and there and the possibility of them jamming together, makes me wish that I was there.

Sable: I was overwhelmed by the solid showing of Manitoba talent at the Winnipeg Folk Festival. Seriously, what is in the water in Winnipeg? There is a constant cultivation of amazing musical talent in Manitoba. JP Hoe’s truthful tone in performance during the Cover Me session had he hooked while he was singing a Bonnie Raitt tune. That was a sheer folk fest moment. I just wish I could have caught his concert session on Sunday afternoon to tuck into more of his own tunes.

New Discovery

Twila: The Martha Redbone Roots Project.  Hearing their workshop with Buffy Sainte-Marie was absolutely phenomenal. The music was tight and the message was clear. Definitely worth checking out.

Sable: Jake Shumbukuro. He made the ukulele sound like such a diverse array of instruments like harp, electric guitar, and koto. I never thought a tiny ukulele could command an entire festival audience but you couldn’t hear a tarp crackle when he took Mainstage on Saturday night. It was just silence. He had a great balance of his own compositions like Blue Roses Falling as well as inventive covers of Bohemian Rhapsody and My Guitar Gently Weeps.

Favourite Workshop

Twila: No surprises here, my favourite workshop was ‘We Shall Overcome: Pete Seeger Tribute’. Concluding the Sunday festival workshop sessions with Joan Baez leading hundreds, if not thousands, of folkies swaying back and forth belting out Seeger’s ‘We Shall Overcome’. Is an event that will not soon disappear from my memory.

Sable: My favorite session was Cover Me. Although it may be strange for me to pick a cover session where none of the Artists played their own tunes, I love hearing the voice of an Artist come out in a piece by someone else. There is a risk factor involved since audience members are likely recognize the original in another form but it is that very comparison factor that increases the performance pressure. If somebody can adapt a cover and do it well in their own style, it takes talent. As well, the spirit of collaboration during a cover tune is more acceptable since everybody feels free to add their instrument to the mix since it really is just about having fun. David Myles, JP Hoe, Sweet Alibi, Michael Bernard Fitzgerald, and the Bros. Landreth did a killer job and a stand out number was when David Myles started a Drake’s tune (in b minor) Hold On We’re Going Home. I loved seeing  MBF jump up to join Myles on the lyrics and relief across Myles’ face because he had lyrical back-up.