I haven’t updated my blog for most of the summer. Sometimes life just carries you to places you didn’t expect. It’s been one of those types of summers. I purchased my Early Bird Folk Festival tickets months in advance of the event. It was probably a good thing because otherwise, I wouldn’t have treated myself with so much going on at the home front. In the end, I attended the entire weekend, with the support of my family and with coverage for dog walking and other responsibilities. Max is always a factor in my planning.
It was July 27. It was my mother’s birthday. I remember taking my mother down to the the island, many years ago. We sat on a bench and shared an ice cream cone. I thought a lot about Mom that evening. I ended up closer to the entrance than any previous Thursday night and had some lovely conversation with my line mates as we waited for gates to open. I chatted with a family group and also met a gentleman who is married to a lady from Souris, PEI, so we had some time to chat about the Cheveries, as she has her family of origin in that line.
Oh, yeah…and I found this guy, in line. (and yes…we need to get the programs in place NOW, in regards to homeless Veterans. I’m with you on that, readers.)
My first and most favourite food of the weekend…a Mediterranean plate, paired with an ice cold lemonade. Thursday evening entailed no fly sheets, a simple cozy blanket for sitting.
Thursday night saw me plunking my butt down at the Main Stage the entire time. I ended up very close to the music. I felt breath and peace and music sink into me, as for the first time, this summer, I truly relaxed. My favourite discovery was the 5:30 performance by Dawes! Why haven’t I heard Dawes before? What???
Immediately, the song writing touched me and I related to the music at a heart level. I’m going to post, not one, but two videos, here.
Ripped off, directly from the Folk Festival website…this biography.
“California in the ‘70s saw the rise of the singer songwriter scene, where musicians threw off the yoke of ye olde folk songs to try their hands at new, more personal creations that melded the personal, the political and the heartfelt. California roots rock band Dawes ably carries that musical torch, even recording their first album live to analog tape in a studio in Laurel Canyon. If you need a recipe for Dawes’s sound, imagine poignant and melodic songs, heartfelt lyrics, sweet harmonies mixed together in a package that’s just a little rough around the edges.
The band’s founders are brothers Griffin and Taylor Goldsmith, so they come by the sweet sibling vocals honestly. Turns out the band’s name is part of their family roots. Dawes is Taylor’s middle name, inherited from his grandad who really liked the idea of keeping the connection and introduced them to two of their favourite artists, Bob Wills and Hank Williams. Dawes mines five albums worth of originals and occasionally serve as the backing band of their old friend and collaborator Bright Eyes (Connor Oberst). And they spread their modern take on ‘70s music, touring folk and rock festivals in the U.S., building a loyal audience for their distinct brand of indie California folk rock.
A highlight for me was musician, Duane Betts, son of Dickey Betts, who joins Dawes with their touring band. Mouth dropping guitar interludes absolutely blew me away! A great experience in music!
Choir! Choir! Choir! was entertaining at 6:45, but honestly, Calgary, I would have liked to see more participation. This makes me laugh, as I see the teacher-heart spring up. We did a poor version of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah. It sounded nothing like the version I’ve posted, here. I did move right up to the front and gave it my best effort, as you can all imagine. We didn’t have Rufus Wainwright with us, but you get the idea.
“An academic study into the effects of collective singing at one Mideast protest found that it helped the group vent negative emotions, strengthen solidarity, foster hope and experience spiritual transcendence. That’s also a typical review of a Choir! Choir! Choir! experience.
And it is an experience, more than a show or a gig. Choir! started as a weekly event at Clinton’s Tavern in Toronto, where anyone with $5 and any skill level could show up and sing along. As word and YouTube videos spread, they begin taking the experience on the road. The onstage setup is simple: usually, just an acoustic guitarist and somebody waving their arms (the conductor). The audience does the heavy lifting. No audition required: Choir! leaders hand out lyric sheets, divide the group into highs, middles and lows, teach the harmonies — and then a radio staple by Tragically Hip, Rihanna or a ’90s grunge band becomes a beautifully shared moment. Hope, solidarity and spiritual transcendence are often outcomes of a great Folk Fest stage, but never quite like this, where the magic emanates from all of you.
Up next was Coeur de pirate. She has the pipes! I was watching her perform through the eyes of my friend, Denise and I thought a lot about our friendship throughout the performance. A beautiful and animated performer, she blew us all away. It was at this point that I connected with friend, Jane, who happened to be hanging with all three of her kids and families. I feel so blessed to have joined them on their tarp for this set.
Billy Bragg and Joe Henry performed next. It was difficult to separate the opinions of others regarding Billy Bragg and my experience of this music. He is looked at like authentic ranchers would view a Rhinestone Cowboy…a bit of a star who doesn’t suffer the actual realities of hard working people. However, I have to tell you, I was really impressed by the music. I am nostalgic when I think of trains and this was the general drift of this set. Joe Henry and Billy Bragg have been collaborators on a project that, I think, archives a history of music as it relates to the American Train. I guess one would argue that this is an appropriation, of sorts. I say this, simply, because its a subject that comes up a lot.
I enjoyed my first night of music listening minus some parking shenanigans….so began folk festival 2017.