August 12, 2009

The Folk Fest Experience

Alright, I am going to do my best to keep this brief. There was one hell of a lot stuff going on leading up to, and right throughout the folk festival weekend. 90% of which was pretty gosh darn' fun. 5% was pretty indescribably brutal, and the final 5% was just sooo amazing that I can't even begin to describe it.

So what the heck made it so fun, you ask?? I'll tell you what made it one of the best festival experiences ever! A girl named Janet. She's actually a friend of mine's little sister. But the time spent with her was truly fantastic. This girl? She has it all: the looks, the brains, a superb taste in music...

Alright Janet, now that I have you and your sister completely freaked out, please know that I am just kidding. Although, it was a lot of fun drinking with you and seeing you again!

IN ALL SERIOUSNESS though, the festival was great, the company was better. I was exposed to a whole new realm of music that I typically had avoided for most of my days, thinking that it was all "old hippie stoner crap". How wrong was I?!?! The diversity and insane talents between all the acts I saw made this one of the best musical experiences ever. And it was all for free.

Yep, free. The volunteering through 4 frigid (10°C) wet night shifts "securing" the area with Lawrence and Lenore from any delinquents that might want to steal stuff from the hill was quite the price to pay to get in to watch the entire festival for free. But only for one night we had to leave watching Boz Skaggs early, since we had to start gearing up with walkie talkies and flashlights and about 3 or 4... or 5 layers of clothing.

The other nights were all pretty great. It all started off pretty huge with Tracy Chapman and Sarah MacLaughlin. Both were amazing.Some of Sarah's songs have significant meaning to me, as I am sure they do to you too (even if it's from watching a lot of Buffy the Vampire Slayer). Tracy Chapman has such a powerful sound that you just can't help to stare at the screen with your jaw hanging open, completely impressed.

We motored home with 1 night down, 4 more to go. The Thursday was the night we showed up late and ended up missing Steve Earle and only watching about an hour of Boz Scaggs while sitting on a blanket waaay up on the hill before having to volunteer. But Friday was probably the ultimate complete day, where we did everything from watching Neko Case, the Wailers, and Raul Malo on the mainstage, to watching my first ever Loudon Wainwright III concert on one of the smaller stages, to going out to party with the musicians at their hotel early into the morning!! Neko Case was hilarious on stage. Her music was really soothing. Raul Malo got us all dancing, and the Wailers be Jammin' Mon, on the stage on the hill and back at the hotel.

Saturday morning was good. We got back to the hill in pretty good time, but missed the 1st Loudon Wainwright III session. As a result, we crashed most of the afternoon at one stage and chilled to sessions with the Great Lake Swimmers, Kimmie Rhodes, Lynn Miles, David Francey & Dave Swarbick, Danny Michel (soo good), Jill Barber (a really sweet girl/voice - she introduced herself to me and Janet in a shuttle bus the day before), Fred Eaglesmith (a bit of a douchebag), and the last Loudon set.

Time for beer. I met up with Janet and drank as much as I could as fast as I can, then headed out with Janet and listened to Alex Cuba. He sang a song about Janet's big sister. It was kinda weird! Maybe just because I was sooo loaded. The people in the beer gardens we were drinking with liked to call themselves engineers, even though they weren't. I hate it when people do that. But Alex Cuba was great. I definitely recommend you checking out

Saturday night kicked my ass. Patti Griffin, Iron & Wine, and Rodney Crowell were all so unique in their own ways. By the end of Rodney Crowell, the dust bowl we were in was starting to get pretty ridiculous. So for a change of pace, we went for a walk. A long walk. An amazing walk. Allll through the river valley. We wound our way up & down hills, through trees and bushes and stumps and eventually found our way back out to civilization. It was really a great time. And we still had 1 day left.

Sunday was an interesting day. I spent most of it alone. In that respect, it was lousy since we were doing pretty good together for the 1st 4 days or whatever. I guess she decided I could figure out this "folk" music by myself by Day 5. And I did. I found my way to some really amazing concerts and sessions. The Chinese throat singers "Hanggai" was unforgettable, especially when fused with "Cherryholmes". I caught some more Jill Barber, a thorough GLS concert, Hot Tuna banjo music, Chumbawamba, Slaid Cleaves (yodelling), Souljah Fyah, and Chloe Albert. Her set was dreamy. Or else, I was just so tired that I found myself drifting in & out of sleep, soaking up sunshine and sweet music. The other musical highlight of Sunday was watching the CKUA (94.9fm) stage, where I saw Danny Michel, Bela Fleck, and Alex Cuba get interviewed and play their songs. Into the evening, the dust was getting into my nose and it was getting hard to breathe. I could have really used another one of those forest walks, actually, but I suffered through. The main stage acts on Sunday were Steven Page, Bela Fleck, and Toumani Diabate. The other nights were definitely better though.

The People.
Linda Duncan was there at least one night. As was Dr. Craik, and a whole crapload of the old EPCOR crew. I also saw a bunch of "enlightened engineers" - those kids with liberal tendencies, I guess, and were involved with Engineers Without Borders at some point or another. Steve, Jess, Andy, Maggie, Andrea, Mark, are only a few of the people that come to me at the top of my head. Allan, from my 1st "engineering job" was there, and he used to call me a "dumb young punk that should go to folk fest" instead of those other kind of shows. As I mentioned, it was fun hanging out with Janet again, although I am pretty certain she owes me a beer or 2 or equivalent... But ultimately, I am so grateful for us to volunteer those 4 cold nights together and hang out Wednesday through Saturday. It was one hell of an extended weekend. And for the first time ever, I didn't even miss warped tour in calgary one bit. Maybe this means I'm growing up?!

Back to real life.

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