On-Going Art Battles at Gorilla House LIVE ART

It was fun to see Bee Kingdom’s Tim Belliveau as one of the participants in the recent art battles.  I continue to be impressed by this whole experience of committing to a concept for an evening and winding up with an art auction.  I hope that my readers will give this venture a quick LIKE here.

Damian Ortega, Cosmic Thing, 2002. Installation view The Museum of Contemporay Art, Los Angeles.

I try to leave out the parts that people skip. Elmore Leonard

The Better Part of the Afternoon

This is what I’m talkin’ about!

Alright…so, I spent the better part of the afternoon writing brief accounts of only some of the artists I had the opportunity to hear this past weekend…but, what I failed to capture was the ‘experience’ of the Calgary Folk Festival.  I’m not certain that words or photographs can ever bring the experience of heading for ‘the island’ to life. Spending a hot and sunny July weekend with friends and family, chilling, is an experience that warms the heart in all of its corners.

The volunteers are remarkable…the enthusiasm can be felt everywhere.  Good food smells permeate the venue!  On Saturday, I had a plate of Indian food, a tradition in our family on one of our folk fest days. From Steven Hunt’s

Opposing world views find harmony at folk fest
Calgary Herald, July 25, 2010

“For more than a decade, the Nagpals, Saroj and husband Ashwani, who operate the India Palace food vendor, have been loading up their trailer and making the drive from Winnipeg to sell their popular butter chicken and other Indian dishes.

It’s the first stop of an India Palace Alberta tour that also includes the Edmonton Folk Festival and that city’s fringe fest.

While the Nagpals spend a large chunk of their summer at hip music festivals, that doesn’t necessarily translate into seeing much of any of them.

For one thing, none of India Palace’s food is prepared ahead of time.

“Everything we have to do (prepare) on the site, and it takes a little bit of time,” says Ashwani.

For the Nagpals, a division of labour helps keep the epic lineups outside their trailer moving steadily. As Saroj supervises serving meals, Ashwani trains and supervises food preparation. “He trains all the chefs and cooks, and then he walks around,” says Saroj.

While there isn’t much opportunity for the Nagpals to hear much music, one year did produce a pleasant surprise: an Indian band.

“They were here from Rajistan, from India,” says Ashwani. “They were playing right in front of our booth when it was the opening ceremony and we just know that because my wife studied in Rajistan.

“We look after them,” he adds, “because when they’re from the same country … and you meet them in a country far away (from home), you feel so good.””

I enjoyed my ritual of a lemonade slushie during the heat of the afternoon and then later,  I drank a beer with a former student in the beer gardens, sharing stories and lots of laughs.  Much like squatters,  my daughters and I spread our tarp on a piece of property and, this year, had only one occasion of racing to cover up our ‘stuff’ because of a quick thunder storm that blew through.  The folk festival ‘fashions’, the hula hoops, the  beach balls and location markers, two-dollar plate rentals…these are all part of the crazy ambience that IS Calgary Folk Festival.  It is a wonderful time!

The C-Train’s rocking movement lulled most of its riders to a quiet hush as we headed south and away from Prince’s Island for another year.  Another successful folk fest!

Dan Mangan

Photo Credit Derek Branscombecrop

Photo Credit: Derek Branscombecrop and found on brag.com.

I sought out Dan Mangan’s performances at several stages on Saturday and Sunday and they were awesome!  I’d have to say that my favourite though, was when he shared Stage 6 with Ian Tamblyn, Joe Nolan and Leeroy Stagger.  What an awesome workshop!  I think that Dan Mangan has an awesome website and I link to it in the hopes that my readers will explore some of his tunes and hook up with his music live when you can.

Out of Vancouver, Dan respectfully honours the music of others.  What extraordinary writing and wondrous musicality.

If the writing is honest it cannot be separated from the man who wrote it. Tennessee Williams

Serena Ryder

Photo credit to Atlantic Records.

Daughter Erin and I had opportunity to hear Serena Ryder, along with the Beauties, twice: once at a workshop and once at the Main Stage.  I liked Serena’s honesty and her ability to transcend the performer/audience relationship to entertain and to relate, both.  I treasured her new song, Merry-go-round, contributing to her authenticity as a performer.  She shared that music literally pulls her out of great sadness, having suffered depression at different times in her life.  She also told us a story about being lost at a fair and once again finding that the music of the merry-go-round soothed her anxiety.  A great performer!

Parting Words

I am releasing words to the summer afternoon.
I honour the process of finally ‘letting go’, having once claimed the words to be abstract and dumb.  I thought these words invented by people who had never had to ‘let go’.

Journals stacked, once shared between two people in love.

Severed…abrupt ending. A period, a comma, a pause.


I cut into the pages,
one at a time, while listening to good music blast from the speakers.

I read each one with no attachment, each one about love.
I archive bits of my heart, celebrating my words…flow…
life-giving water
and then say good-bye.

These are parting words.

These are reconstructed words.

Later, someone will ask me what I did today and I will say that I ate strawberries, walked the dog, listened to music, answered the phone.

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Summer Explodes With Blitz the Ambassador

What a stage! Melvin Gibbs, Wazimbo, Marc Ribat y Los Cubanos Postizos and Blitz the Ambassador!  This is where things exploded at the Calgary Folk Festival!  The brass and percussion were stunning!

Melvin Gibbs

Stage 4 on Sunday afternoon was alive with beats and an explosion of dancing in sunshine and blue skies.  Melvin Gibbs is a phenomenal bass guitar player.  I’ve never heard anything like it and I was really pleased to have the chance to shake his hand and exchange some words.  If you have an artist’s soul, may I recommend that you pour a cold glass of water or a nice mug of coffee and sit back and watch this three part interview.  It is so inspiring!

Find the complete 3 part interview by clicking HERE!

Justin Townes Earle: Rooted

We took in a workshop and a Main Stage performance with Justin Townes Earle.  His work smacks of memory as I recall times spent listening to Guthrie.  After some time with his lyrics and with his melodies, one becomes deeply connected with his story.  It creeps into everything.  He doesn’t have to narrate anything.  The music is raw.  I think he’s a brave musician.

When he did say something, it evoked a huge response inside of me, particularly when he introduced the song, Mama’s Eyes.  To paraphrase,  he said that it was his Mama who raised him as a young boy.  It was his Mama who raised him as a young man.  He explained that she didn’t do such a great job.  And then he said, “But, you see, it wasn’t her job.”

I am my father’s son
I’ve never known when to shut up
I ain’t fooling no one
I am my father’s son

We don’t see eye to eye
And I’ll be the first to admit
I’ve never tried It sure hurts me,
it should hurt sometime

We don’t see eye to eye
I was a young man when
I first found my pleasure in the [Incomprehensible]
And I went down the same road as my old man

Yeah, I was younger then
Now it’s 3 a.m. and I’m standing in the kitchen
Holding my last cigarette
Strike a match and I see my reflection in the mirror in the hall

And I say to myself
I’ve got my mama’s eyes
Her long thin frame and her smile
And I still see wrong from right

‘Cause I’ve got my mama’s eyes
Yeah, I’ve got my mama’s eyes


Joe Nolan: Where Did This Guy Come From?

Photo of Joe Nolan album cover, Goodbye Cinderella borrowed from http://joenolan.bandcamp.com/


I never cease to be surprised at the Calgary Folk Festival.  For Pete’s sake…this guy is living above a women’s apparel shop in Inglewood!  He blew us away with his vocals on Sunday at the festival!  Rich manly voice singing tender lyrics.  His version of Helpless by Neil Young got the crowd engaged at his good-bye.  For the people looking for good musicians, check this young man out!  I’m now going to stalk his website and find out where he’s been playing.  I’ll be down at the Blue’s Can on Tuesday.  I recommend that you join me. :0)

Calgary Folk Festival: Jumbled Musings With Iron and Wine

Initially, I thought that I would search out alternative music to place over top of this short film, taken at the closing of the festival last night, but in listening to the shared-experience with my daughter, I found bits of it to be so endearing…I know that I will treasure this account forever.  Love you, dear girl of mine!

The Trapeze Swinger by Iron and Wine

Please remember me, happily
By the rosebush laughing
With bruises on my chin, the time when
We counted every black car passing

Your house beneath the hill and up until
Someone caught us in the kitchen
With maps, a mountain range, a piggy bank
A vision too removed to mention

But please remember me, fondly
I heard from someone you’re still pretty
And then they went on to say that the Pearly Gates
Had such eloquent graffiti

Like ‘We’ll meet again’ and ‘Fuck the man’
And ‘Tell my mother not to worry’
And angels with their great handshakes
But always done in such a hurry

And please remember me, at Halloween
Making fools of all the neighbors
Our faces painted white, by midnight
We’d forgotten one another

And when the morning came I was ashamed
Only now it seems so silly
That season left the world and then returned
And now you’re lit up by the city

So please remember me, mistakenly
In the window of the tallest tower
Call, then pass us by but much too high
To see the empty road at happy hour

Gleam and resonate just like the gates
Around the Holy Kingdom
With words like, ‘Lost and found’ and ‘Don’t look down’
And ‘Someone save temptation’

And please remember me as in the dream
We had as rug burned babies
Among the fallen trees and fast asleep
Beside the lions and the ladies

That called you what you like and even might
Give a gift for your behavior
A fleeting chance to see a trapeze
Swinger high as any savior

But please remember me, my misery
And how it lost me all I wanted
Those dogs that love the rain and chasing trains
The colored birds above their running

In circles round the well and where it spells
On the wall behind St. Peter
So bright on cinder gray in spray paint
‘Who the hell can see forever?’

And please remember me, seldomly
In the car behind the carnival
My hand between your knees, you turn from me
And said the trapeze act was wonderful

But never meant to last, the clowns that passed
Saw me just come up with anger
When it filled with circus dogs, the parking lot
Had an element of danger

So please remember me, finally
And all my uphill clawing
My dear, but if I make the Pearly Gates
I’ll do my best to make a drawing

Of God and Lucifer, a boy and girl
An angel kissin’ on a sinner
A monkey and a man, a marching band
All around the frightened trapeze swinger