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!

Friday @ the Calgary Folk Music Festival 2019

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.

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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.

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Freak Motif provided the musical dynamic through the course of the interview and they are fantastic!

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Yissy Garcia and Bandancha led off the evening main acts at 5:45.

IMG_6191 (2)  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.

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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!

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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.