Tuesday, July 17, 2007

An embarassment of riches

It was all music, all the time this weekend. Think I have recovered - unfortunately.

Friday night was The Polyphonic Spree. Just the kind of think I like - more people than should be packed on the stage at any one time (24 I believe...) and all playing full tilt, a rich assault of vocals mixed with more instruments than you can count, and an intense, near evangelical energy. And great outfits to boot.

Saturday and Sunday were spend at Jericho Beach Park for the 30th Vancouver Folk Fest. It's one of my favorite things. I've been to a lot of folk fests in Ontario, and loved all of them - but Vancouver's is remarkable both for it's size and for it's accessibility. 40 minutes and I'm there. How great is that. And the beauty of the setting is second to none. The first shot here is of the evening stage (about 10,000 people are on site at that point), just as the sun is going down. Doesn't really capture it but oh well.

The evening concerts are great, but it is the daytime workshop stages I love. The crowds are small, the artists are interesting - it's all good. I went with my FF companion of the last two years, A. (shown relaxing below), and we spend a couple of lazy, hot days taking our chairs from stage to stage depending on what's going on where. We know it well enough now that you know what the flavour of each stage is going to be (stage 2 for instance is "the Folk Fest Nazi stage" because it is sheltered under trees, and comfortable site that attracts those intolerant both to sun and to many other things. Lord knows I'm intolerant of audience behaviour, but these guys make me look amateur). Navigating the fest is a bit of a skill, but we've got it down now.

Anyway, it's a great place to get exposed to new music, and a great place to see musicians really playing - in the true sense of the word. It is also the perfect place to meet that really hairy, bearded, impossibly thin man of indeterminate age wearing a pair of overalls - and nothing else. Or to make friends with one of the many, many lesbian couples. And their children. Or the transgendered. Or young men that wear sarongs. Or bells on their feet. Or both. Or to see interpretive dancing. I know, I know, I sound judgemental. And I shouldn't be - with our matching lawn chairs and cowboy hats, A. and I are pretty good targets ourselves I'm sure. But my 'observations' come with an incredible amount of affection, trust me - it's what makes the fest the fest and I wouldn't change a thing. OK, might make the overall wearing guy put on underwear. Or a shirt.

Couple of artists I quite liked - Rae Spoon, a self described transgendered banjo player raised by evangelists in the prairies (now THAT's gotta be an easy life). He also plays with a guy called Rodney Decroo in a band calls The Trucker's Memorial
Great sense of humour (highlighted by Rae's comment that they thought of calling their album Amber Alert ...take a look at the picture of the two of them and you'll figure out why), and a great 'old country' voice.

Totally different kind of artist also caught my attention this time, though I've seen her before - Ndidi Onukwulu - young bluesy singer from Toronto with a pretty elfin face that kind of reminds me of my youngest niece, which may be part of her appeal for me, who knows....anyway, take a listen, or a look, and enjoy.