Thank you, Ziggy!

There we were at Anderson Station, bright and early.  Pat was so very kind to share her Sunday tickets, a gift from Ziggy and family, with me.  I will always be grateful because Sunday ended up being a great day for workshops and new discoveries at the Calgary Folk Music Festival!

With an 8:30 departure, we found ourselves setting out our tarp and setting up our lawn chairs at the Main Stage around 10:00.  Again, we had a marvelous location and I felt really excited about what the day would hold.  I really enjoy Pat’s company, our conversations and the fact that we are both open to adventure and surprises.  We brought Pat’s treats for the first part of our morning…nummy B.C. cherries, moist rhubarb cake (love her baking!) a huge bag of Hawkin’s Cheezies and mints, (the hard candy type with the dab of chocolate in the middle).

Walking past the CKUA tent and on our way to the Rigstar Stage 5, we happened upon an interview with Ndidi O.  BAM!  What a magical start to our day!

It’s so strange to learn that my first connection with Ndidi’s music was so long ago!  And had it not been for the Calgary Folk Music Festival, I likely would have not enjoyed that encounter.  Music is always out there and it reaches into our hearts.  I can only imagine how much work goes into establishing and maintaining a career in music.  Thank you, Ndidi, for your heart.

After her song, Maybe the Last Time, Pat and I headed to our first workshop of the day, Hear Your Voice at the Rigstar.

This was an eclectic stage, so there wasn’t so much jamming as you might typically experience, but it was a beautifully supportive stage.  T. Buckley, Logan Staats, Beverly Glenn-Copeland and Ramy Essam…each one very unique in their approach to both song writing and performance.  This was an animated stage.  It was a perfect mix and the audience was receptive.  Ramy Essam and Beverly Glenn-Copeland were the surprises here.

Follow link here to read Beverly Glenn-Copeland’s biography.

Ramy Essam had a huge collaborative presence on the stage and on several others during folk fest weekend.  A great contribution.

We didn’t take much of a break because this stage set us up for a powerful day of music.  We headed for the Community Natural Foods Stage 6 and set ourselves down along the edge of the tent, but in the shade.  The stage show was titled Dance Hall Moonshine and indeed, it was a Dance Hall.  On stage; Ndidi O, Valerie June, Cedric Burnside and Yissy Garcia and Bandancha.  Cedric Burnside was the surprise here.  This show was full of strong beats and drew in the crowds.

 

We decided to grab our lunch from our Mainstage backpacks and to find spots at Stage 6 again, beginning with Calgary’s own Lab Coast.  We moved ourselves quite a distance from the stage because the sound seemed really big (too big)…so, we ate our lunch next to the new Cannabis Consumption site. lol  

Thanks to Wendy Lees, for the beautiful salads that she shared with me the evening before, at the Ironwood Stage and Grill.  I felt like we took a big step up from folk fest food with these nice packed lunches.  And congratulations to Wendy on her summer tour of the Custom Woolen Mills and the Dancing Goats Farm.

At 1:55, Fantastic Bombastic began with me moving into a central position under the tent.  I knew that this would be a lively stage, featuring musicians; The Harpoonist and the Axe Murder, Sam Lewis, Reel in Dimes and Freak Motif.  And it was lively!  What fun.  This stage got the win for the greatest collaborative jams…there was such chemistry, while all-the-while each musicians particular genre and music was evident.  Everyone in the tent was up and moving.  It was a very powerful experience.

This stage was the highlight for me.  I had marked Beverly Glenn-Copeland’s concert on my map, for 2:20, but there was no way I could see myself leaving bopping stage!  Grateful that I caught him in the morning.

Folk fest requires that I enjoy several rituals throughout its course, but given the usual four days, these rituals can be spread over the entire festival.  This year, given two days, provided by dear friends, Linda and Pat…I couldn’t possibly do everything.  I didn’t take time in the merchandise tent this year, nor did I visit the artisan fair.  I did, however, take note of what activities were happening in the children’s section as I imagined my grandson attending next year.  One has to prioritize.  I didn’t miss iced cold lemonade though and Pat and I got a cup on our way to the Field Law Stage 3.

I thought that because this was Pat’s first folk fest experience, we should go into the Field Law via the beer gardens.  Now, typically, folk fest sees me enjoying a single cold beer at this stage.  But this year, oh my, given that the Field Law is physically open to the beer gardens, I found it extremely crowded, elbow to elbow and very noisy.  Standing room only was located directly in front of the biffs.  It just wasn’t my cup of tea although it was evident that the music was phenomenal.  I sat for three songs and Pat stood where space was more available on the outside fringe.  She was such a good sport.  At this stage; Hamsa Hamsa, Ramy Essam, Mdou Moctoar and Cedric Burnside.  I was happy that we had earlier enjoyed two of these.

Off we went to the National for Channel Crossers; Jon Langford’s Four Lost Souls, Mekons, Colter Wall and We Banjo 3.  In the intense heat of the day, Pat was very observant and found us comfy seats under a tent, compliments of the National.  Wowsah!  What luck!  It was under this tent that a former student dropped by and grabbed a hug and our annual selfie.  It always seems I bump into Brent at folk festival.  So wonderful to see these young kids grow up!  This stage was a bopping Celtic sort of country blend.  The sound wasn’t good, although the National stage is usually pretty good.  The standout for me, here, was We Banjo 3.  They engaged the audience and got things bopping.  We greeted Colter Wall after the performance.  We thought he was very brave during the stage performance as his placement with the other musicians didn’t seem to be very well thought out.  Sound for his very traditional country music was better at the evening stage, but again, not my cup of tea.  It’s obvious there is a huge following of this 24 year old’s music, regardless.   

By this time, it was time to head for the ATB Mainstage where the lineup included Della Mae, Valerie June, Colter Wall and the finale The Strumbellas.  I really found Valerie June was one of the most unique artists, with a very beautiful presence on stage.  Funny how she stepped out, put her big green bag down next to the drummer and when she left, she said, “good night” and went and picked up her bag and walked off.  No messing around. 

Pat and I went, during Colter Wall’s performance to seek out french fries and coffees and returned to our spots with gigantic hot dogs from the Red Wagon food truck.  Mine was slathered in cheese, sauerkraut and onion…the onion slightly undercooked.  We chowed down while watching Colter’s fans completely engage his music.  His vocals are his strength, but for now, he is delivering a lot of covers.

The finale act was very entertaining and the entire island was moving rhythmically side to side and singing along.  I love folk fest evenings…the brilliant sky fading from blue to darker blue to black…the lantern parade…huge bubbles spilling into the air…beach balls bouncing through the crowd and finally, on the evening of the 40th anniversary, fireworks!  Hugs from friends, Jocelyn and Mark…and we were on our way…another beautiful folk festival thanks to my friends.  We crammed a lot of music into our day!  Thank you, Pat.  Thank you, Ziggy.  Thank you, Ziggy’s family!

Calgary Folk Festival 2015

I’ve just purchased my four day pass for this year’s folk festival and so I thought I had better review my archives on last year’s events because the experience was a little different and very special in a number of ways.  I just didn’t take the opportunity to sit and reflect on any of it.  The program got shoveled into a pile with other papers and I just left the experience to marinate in my heart and my mind.  Folk Festival is a special event for me.

For 2015, initially, I had hoped to travel the Trans Canada Highway for a long visit with Dad in Ontario, but as it turned out, after teaching a long contract up until the end of June, Max-man injured his ACL in one back leg and days later, I broke my foot.  It was a calamity that sent me into a bit of an emotional tail spin because I was so looking forward to a big road trip. (I enjoy the experience of the Canadian landscape while cranking up CBC radio.)

Things weren’t going well.  After two weeks of being confined to one level of the house, Max began to heal and later that first month, with follow-up Orthopedic care, we received the news that he did not require the prescribed surgery.  That was awesome!  As his mobility increased, I met Steve of  Red Rover Pet Care and felt relieved that Steve was someone who would give Max the exercise he needed through my own convalescence and at the same time, be a happy and positive daily force in our lives.

The difficulties of Summer 2015, however, were not over!

Not much time had passed when my upstairs en suite plumbing led to more chaos and money that I had set aside for travel, ended up being poured into renovations.  Crazy! I DO try to find the positive side of events and as it turned out, through the water issues, I met a truly amazing young man, Trevor…such a professional and efficient plumber, on the recommendation of friend, Dino.  Trevor went well beyond the call of duty, given his fix-it knowledge and his kind heart.  Since then, I have learned so many good pointers from Trevor, where general renovations and handling fix-it problems are concerned.

In the midst of all of this, my daughter said, “Mom, if you can’t go on your trip, why don’t you buy Folk Festival tickets?”  I couldn’t imagine it!  Okay…well, I was blessed with a walking cast, but I still couldn’t picture getting around the grounds!  In the end, though, it all worked out.  Every night, I was a little more than tired!  I’m grateful to Erin who really did organize our food and snacks, very generously, so that I was basically just responsible to get myself together.

There were some real surprises at Folk Festival…and there always are!  Let me see if I can pull up some photographs of my favourites.

We have our folk festival rituals, one of them is to pour over our programs and mark our priorities/mapping out preferences.  I love this photograph of Cayley.  It has that Folk Fest feel about it!  Love the rubber boots!  And yes, this was a year that we had to run for it, a couple of times (cover up) and this involved me pulling a plastic bag over my cast.

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Musicians that I took in last year included (in no particular order because too much time has passed): The photographs are all mine…I did the best I could.  It would be nice if you asked to use them before you use them.

Aqua Alta out of Halifax, NS

Alright, so anything labeled as a Dreamscape, is likely not really for me.  A surreal sensibility in music, for me, is tolerable, but not a preferred experience.  I’m posting here, a sampling that is more literal than most pieces.  To be fair, one would have to say that the layers are very interesting.  I like the percussive layer.

Bombino from Niger  A huge ball of energy, life, light and carrying with him, a truly remarkable narrative, Bombino was one of the highlights for me.  I guess, classed as World music, one could not help but get up to this stuff and dance.  I remember feeling truly inspired by the guy.  Much evidence throughout his commentary and his music that he is in the world to create goodness! Highly recommend!  I remember feeling this same way the first time I heard K’Naan.

Sera Cahoone out of Seattle, Washington  Sera has a big voice for a little girl.  Her writing is good.  When I heard her, I was thinking that these twangy ballads will take people time to latch on to.  But, she’s a solid performer!  A lady with a pile of love songs in her heart. A nice voice to have sitting on a workshop stage.

Jennifer Castle; Toronto, Ontario  Jennifer spent a good while singing in a basement tavern in London, England and is said to have been influenced by British folk tradition in her songwriting.  I guess I don’t know enough about that to really get it.  I find her work a bit dissonant.  (she describes her music as being unsettling)

I heard her sing this number and liked it a lot.

Kim Churchill; Australia  Truth: this guy was just plain handsome…my daughters would roll their eyes at that initial remark, especially since today I turn 61.  If I were you and you had a chance to see this guy perform, I would encourage it!  I liked it a lot…and I’d never heard of Kim Churchill before in my life!  If you don’t take a look at any of the videos I post here, look at this one.  He shares some musicality, especially with the strong percussive underlying beat with Xavier Rudd.  Kim Churchill probably hates that comparison being made…but, I felt it so I’m writing it.

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EMBASSYLIGHTS; Calgary, AB/Iceland  I love love loved these guys!  I liked that they were such family-people! Demonstrating a versatile knowledge of instrumentation, I really thought EMBASSYLIGHTS was wonderful.  Indie or magic-light music, this couldn’t keep you going all folk fest long, but a restful respite on an otherwise-busy workshop stage.

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Father John Misty; New Orleans, LA  Supposed BIG NAME and a must-see, I saw, but in the end, felt that Father John Misty was such a darned PERFORMER, that it was all SHOW and not enough about the authenticity of the music.  Do you know what I mean?  Contrary to the content of his biography and despite the interesting things he has done, I didn’t feel it in the gut!

Frazey Ford; Vancouver, BC  I had been listening to Frazey Ford’s radio voice for some months before the Folk Festival.  She was a must-see on my list.  In the end, I don’t know if the sound techs had that stage worked out by the time she performed.  I just felt that her big voice with amazing and surprising nuance was not coming through.  She has such a quality of voice.  I chalk my disappointment up to the venue (main stage) and not to her performance.  I just really like her.

Frazey 2015

Jenn Grant; Halifax, NS  Yes!  Lots of mellow…chill…music.  We noticed that also.  That’s why, in the end, there are some people who really stand out!  Strong writing and truly beautiful, warm music. Not to be poo pooed.

Robyn Hitchcock; England  Here was a stand out for me!  I really enjoyed Robyn…saw him on a workshop stage with Buffy Ste. Marie and then again on Main Stage.  Really liked him. He had stories and a powerful connection with place. Labeled as a surrealist…his work is innovative and a little unexpected for its character.  Confidence, not arrogance, came through in his performances.  He felt seasoned.  That’s important sometimes.  This wasn’t for everyone.  lol

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Kids Koala’s Vinyl Vaudeville; Montreal, QC Pure entertainment!  Kid Koala just had us all in stitches, while also entertaining us with his amazing abilities!  This was surprising and very very entertaining!  Layers of sound, music and effects. Set way in the back of the early morning workshop group, his creativity and innovation came through! Smiles spread over the crowd!

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Lake Street Dive; Boston, MA  Such good music!  These guys are professional!  Listen to this woman’s pipes!  Great stand up base!

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Leftover Cuties; Los Angeles, CA  This was the best workshop stage I attended…a great bunch of people who didn’t mind really jamming.  Sometimes people don’t get that approach and don’t cross into other performer’s genres…this was a wonderful stage and the Leftover Cuties were great sports.

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John Mann; Vancouver, BC  I’m so grateful that I had opportunity to listen to John Mann perform even a few songs on a workshop stage.  It was a privilege.  All these months later, John has performed his farewell concert and of course, it saddens all of his fans.

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Milk Carton Kids; Los Angeles, CA Pure musicality and entertainment.  Wow!  I really am glad that I had the chance to enjoy these two.  They create fantastic harmonies with songs that are well-written!  Their transitions and monologues were uber-entertaining!

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Oh Susanna; Toronto, Ontario  More the twang of a country singer here.  Strong voice.  Again, a very subdued feel to her performance.

Lynn Olagundoye; Calgary, AB  Wow…jazzy…rich…warm.  A very beautiful voice.  It was surprising to me that this was a voice coming out of Calgary!  This workshop stage was so diverse in its styles, there were some struggles where good jamming could happen.  I enjoyed the individuals that came through, however.

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Petunia and The Vipers; Vancouver, BC  These guys also shared my favourite workshop stage.  Much fun! Daughter, Cayley, appears in a music video produced by this group.

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Buffy Sainte-Marie; Hawaii  My sister-in-law, Karen, had joined us on the tarp for some music at the main stage on our final evening.  It just happened to be that a friend of mine was leaving early and had been sitting the whole folk festival, on the golden tarp at the front of the main stage.  She came to talk to me as I waited my turn for the biffy and offered us the tarp.  So…off I went to see one of the most iconic female performers I know of, front stage!  I had also caught her sharing a workshop stage, so this was extra special!  What can I say?  Grateful!

A footnote here, Buffy has the most amazing percussionist ever!  I love the guy!  If you ever have the chance to truly observe Michel Bruyere, take the opportunity!  So beautiful!

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Shakey Graves; Austin, TX  One of my favourite performers was Shakey Graves!  He was passionate about his music, an excellent guitar player and was full of energy throughout his performance!  He was a great surprise.

 

 

Sarah Jane Scouten; Montreal, QC Very folky sounding.  I’ve got to say, this year, the selection was built for a folk festival.  I love well-written ballads performed sweetly.  I would have enjoyed hearing more of Sarah.

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JJ Shiplett; Calgary, AB  JJ shows up on Calgary bills, but I’ve never had the opportunity to see him performing.  I’m going to have to track him down.  Honestly, I love the rich warm sound of his guitar!

Esperanza Spalding presents Emily’s Dplus Evolution; Portland, OR

I’m not even going to post a comment about Esperanza Spalding.  I really didn’t understand her performance piece and regretted not moving from the stage.  It was evening and about supper time, so I just stayed plunked!

The Stray Birds; Lancaster, PA  It’s nice to hear from International musicians…to check out what’s happening beyond our borders.  I enjoyed the clarity of their music and the versatility of their instrumentation.  A very positive feeling to The Stray Birds.

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The Strumbellas; Toronto, Ontario A terrific six member band coming out of Toronto, with strong connections in Northern Ontario.  Their beats get people up dancing.  A very nice energy.

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Richard Thompson; England  As I said before, it’s a great thing when these festivals integrate some seasoned song writers.  Very upbeat and sensational in betweener stories. Lots of humour and great music.

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Loudon Wainwright III; Westchester County, NY  Another pleasure to watch, for his humour and his experience, Loudon Wainwright III!  If you enter his name into Youtube, a hundred titles show up!  Quite a song writer and it was really a treat to listen!

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The Wooden Sky; Toronto, ON

Hawksley Workman; Toronto, ON  Hawksley was a power house.  Lots of energy…he danced and sang across two stages.  I really liked this guy. He put on a great show!

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Adam Cohen Son of Leonard Cohen, I liked Adam’s work.  If you’re thinking that you’re going to hear similarities in his vocals…you’re wrong.  Quite a different experience.  A fun time at Main Stage on this one.

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Oh my, there were others…but, I’m leaving this now.

Yes, indeed!  Dawning my air cast, I took in all of this fabulous music and while we were just saying over breakfast this morning, that it was a very chill line up last year, I’m looking at this list and remembering some phenomenal experiences!  The thing about Folk Festival is that you are exposed to artists you might not have ever connected with who produce stuff that is MORE than appealing.  It was a great folk festival…now that I’ve created this list, I’m going to go back and add some meat to the bones, so to speak.

(Okay….so that was quite an experience of music! 2231 words later!)  I hope that my readers have enjoyed the odd bit.  I’m not going to be waiting until a year later to document 2016 Folk Festival…so looking forward to it!

 

 

 

 

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