Monday, July 20, 2009

Vancouver Folk we go, brace yourself...

...for a long one.

I've been thinking for the morning how I'm going to break this one down. The Vancouver Folk Music Festival is hands down my favorite event in Vancouver. FAVORITE. If the weather is good, it is guaranteed to be two and a half days of sunburn/sunstroke, food from places with names like "The Preserved Seed Cafe" (cafe or sperm bank? Hmmmm), giggling at the colourfully clad interpretive dancers (who are not necessarily listening to any music you or I might be hearing), unusual relaxed friendliness, and GREAT music.

An Introduction to the VFMF:
I figured this year I would try and get the feeling of the place across with some visuals. A few stills, and then a couple of videos just to set the atmosphere: First, a quick 360 turn from beside the (controversial) new beer tent, with waving from my pals A & A, followed by a fantastic bit of dancing by a guy that is there, dancing to his own special tune, EVERY year:

Are you feeling it yet? Yes? Well, let's move on then...

Apparently I went with my sister...or ...?:
For the last few years, my partner in crime at the festival has been my dear pal A. We are about the same height and width, and take up roughly the same volume in the world. We both wear our festival cowboy hats, sit in our matching striped chairs (hers blue, mine pink) getting matching tank-top burns, with our similar sunglasses and identical cameras. At the festival, this means one of two things: to those that know only one of us, it means we must be just being the pasty british version of her Chilean/Hungarian sibling I guess; for those that don't know at least one of us, it means we are A Couple. Not that we wouldn't make a pretty cute couple, I must say, but I'm guessing it does provide effective protection against meeting the man of my dreams there. I'm just saying.

The Music:
Now, this is the most important part of it all.

The lineup was really interesting this year - though still including some great classic folk & blues, and some fantastic international musicians, the focus shifted slightly towards acts that would appeal to a slightly younger crowd. The evening shows included Steven Page (who to his credit made some pretty funny self deprecating jokes about his drug related arrest and departure from the BNL), Iron & Wine, and the Weakerthans; and dotted throughout the weekend were personal faves the Great Lake Swimmers, Veda Hille, Rock Plaza Central, and Dan Mangan. So here we go with some highlights:

Holy crap, what was THAT? : Rev. Payton's Big Damn Band
Now, this video does NOT convey the monumentally imposing figures the Rev and his wife Breezy make. I wish I had more of their set. Particularly, the part when Breezy lights her washboard on fire and keeps playing through the flames. I'll be watching out for these guys, they were fantastic.

Yes, I know you know: Dan Mangan
I have spoken before about my Mang-on (I should add that the friend that accused me of that has subsequently changed it to Har-dan...or maybe I shouldn't add that...). Each time I see him perform I am floored by his talent, both as a songwriter and as a vocalist. And his charisma is...well, I defy you to find a grandma that wouldn't want to pinch those cheeks and feed him a bowl of soup, or a 20 year old that isn't hatching a plot to take out his girlfriend. And that, dear readers, is the mysterious combination that will move this young talent into the spotlight sooner rather than later. Mark my words. His new CD Nice, Nice, Very Nice will be released the second week of August. The tracks I have heard (either live or on the teaser EP released earlier this year) are fantastic, and if the stars are aligned as they should be, it will bring him the recognition he has long deserved.

And one day, one day, I will be able to listen to Basket without tearing up. Unfortunately, that one day was not yesterday.

I caught a bit of his workshop stage with his friend Mark Berube, and his fantastic solo set. (The still of him walking through the crowd is from the performance of Robots, which another lucky Fest goer videoed here) I should add that part of the delight of his solo set was that the enchanting Veda Hille sat in for a few songs, including these two:

Rock Plaza Central: Gimpy banjo? I don't think so...
Meet another band I am ridiculously passionate about. I can't quite pinpoint what it is that appeals to me so much - there's a rawness to it all, or an immediacy or something - that just grabs me. That, and Chris Eaton's incredible lyrics. Their new album the moment of our most needing just came out, and it is absolutely fantastic. It was great to see them live in Vancouver with an audience of more than 50, and as Chris Eaton pointed out, somewhere where there seemed to be fewer crack addicts than the places they usually play. RPC played an absolutely fantastic workshop stage with Bellowhead and Geoff Berner - here's a glimpse of that magic:
They also played a fantastic solo set, during which Chris recounted that someone from the Breakmen asked him what style of banjo he played. He responded "gimpy". You be the judge:

I'm running out of steam now...but I will squeeze in another thing I loved - the Great Lake Swimmers. What a TREAT to see them at so many workshop stages, and for the most magical evening show, the band lit by the setting sun.

Gorgeous. Absolutely. And in every way.


Annie said...

that's a great video of the rev and breezy - they were so fantastic. and i also loved rock plaza central - i've never heard of them before but they were amazing.

also, i really was convinced you must have been waving at someone behind me. so i apologize for the blank stare. unless you really were waving at someone behind me. :)

sugarlove said...

Lovely post Bunkle! I also wanted to point out the absolute fan-tab-ulousness of Veda's Cantata featuring the contents of Craig's list.... what a great festival. sigh.

TM said...


I am actually dying. What I wouldn't have done to see Dan and Veda play together! But as per usual, lovely videos, and I'm so glad you enjoyed the festival. Also- if you're looking for a less lewd name for your Dan Mangan love, my friend and I have declared ourselves "Fan Mangans" or, alternatively "Fangans." Though, I have to admit, Har-Dan, is pretty much the bees knees.

BunkleLife said...

Annie - Glad you liked RPC & will practice my waving for next time

T1 - Veda is the best!

TM - Can't believe you weren't there!!? Oh well - there is always Dan's CD release at the Cultch late August (alas I will be away...)

TM said...

Wish I could have gone. Sadly, I am away all summer! I'm going to do my darndest to get to that CD release party, though.

ImportanceOfWhatever said...

This all looks so awesome! I might have to make a trip up there next time around!