Forty years since the beginnings of summer at the edge of our beautiful river and the celebration of music, community and food! This year was the Calgary Folk Music Festival’s 40th anniversary! And, surprise! Things are a little tight for me this summer and I planned that I wouldn’t partake this year.
Everything turned around for me when my sister-friend, Linda, told me that she’d treat me to a night at the festival, if I’d join her for Sheila-E. What??? Of course I would go!! I was speechless and offered snacks and dinner as an exchange. (hardly an equivalent!)
Friday at noon, we headed out from Anderson station. My rituals each year have included the C Train ride and the walk with other folkies from the 1st Street stop down to the site. Parking downtown has always been a bit of a worry for me. This year was the first year, though, that I actually felt really weary as I headed home after the night’s main stage performances, so I might be reconsidering my mode of transport in future.
We set up our tarp at the ATB Mainstage and I was really happy to discover that friends, Jocelyn and Mark were parked right to our right. Our location was forward of the walk path by a long shot and this year, to the left, near the dancing section. I decided we had great spots for the evening shows and that I would have great access to step forward and into the front row fray later on. Whoop!
On the way to the National (Stage 4) we stopped at the CKUA tent in order to confirm times for Grant Stovell’s interview with Sheila E.
The National was hosting a very energetic workshop from 3:00 until 4:15, Mujeres Poderosas with Sofia Viola, Yissy Garcia and Bandancha, Sheila E., Los Pachamama y Flor Amargo. It’s really impossible to describe, here, the energy level. A fabulous workshop.
I loved the percussive power at this stage. Yissy Garcia and Bandancha, Los Pachamma y Flor Amargo and Sofia Viola owned that stage. Sheila E. snuck in a bit of percussive stuff on one improvisation piece, I’m thinking because she wanted to let Yissy be the star of this performance, knowing she had a Mainstage spot that night. I really don’t know, but this is the narrative I’ve written into the afternoon. It’s all in the head! It was hot hot hot and our shade kept moving. Click on the images to enlarge.
After this stage, we headed for the CKUA interview and for lunch.
O’ MY! Sheila E. spoke so eloquently…a little about her career, the struggles, her music and her mission. I felt that she was authentic, warm and was very blessed to be sitting this close to her.
Freak Motif provided the musical dynamic through the course of the interview and they are fantastic!
Yissy Garcia and Bandancha led off the evening main acts at 5:45.
This performance was followed by one of my favourite folk fest discoveries, some ten years ago, Ndidi O. What pipes! What heart! I treasured the experience of connecting with her music again.
Dinner break came after Ndidi and Linda and I headed straight for Mediterranean, one of the yummiest meals served at the folk fest. Linda went with the wrap style and I had the plate. For years, I enjoyed the curry that was served, but that business didn’t show up about three years ago and I’ve never found the perfect substitute.
Back we went to our seats to enjoy the food, but not so much the music. You have to be a certain kind of music lover to enjoy the Rheostatics. The band has a strong following, given their forty years of performance and are often considered one of Canada’s iconic bands. For me, their music is a tad of the ‘musical theater’ vein. I like the folk festival because it exposes to music you may not listen to otherwise, but this band just wasn’t my cup of tea. The high point of this performance for me, was when poet Kris Demeanor joined the band in song near the end.
High point of the night came at 8:50! Sheila E kept us all spellbound, and as planned, I headed for the front, coming finally to the second row, with Linda in tow. What a night! Sheila E completely connected with the audience. It was fantastic!
There was just not going to be any beating this performance and so I recommended to Linda that we pack up for the night. I was going home with one of Sheila E.s drumsticks. I was flying high from the vibrancy and execution of a wonderful performance. We walked along to the train, full of music and gratitude. Thank you so much, Linda, for this gift. It was up there with the top musical experiences of my life.