Friday, July 26, 2013

Folk Fest (and more)

Yes, it's happened. I haven't posted for ages, and now there is a tonne I feel like posting about. I know that feeling will likely pass in the next 20 minutes, so let's see how far I get.

Firstly, summer is amazing this year. We haven't had a drop of rain all month - sun, temperatures in the 20s - glorious. Really. Equally glorious? A day trip to visit a dear pal I haven't seen for about ten years.  So nice to reconnect, and lovely to meet her family.  Galiano is spectacular.  And Moxie is pretty awesome too.

And yes - time for the Folk Festival Recap.  I won't go on about the weather again except to say it made for a pretty perfect weekend.  I was there with my usual partner in Folk Fest crime, A., and by a lucky twist of fate our pal L. managed to attend as well.  It was the usual scene - thousands of people, a high percentage wearing Keens sandals and Tilly hats.  Musically I can't say that I came away having fallen head over heels with any band in particular, but there were a number I'd go out on a second date with:  Aidan Knight, the talented Mangan-esque singer/songwriter from Victoria;  Sara Watkins, ex-Nickel Creek and standing strongly on her own skills as a solo performer (though I have to admit, if I had to pick an ex-Nickel Creek member to put on my desert island of musical geniuses, Chris Thile would be it); Hanggai, a band from Beijing that plays some crazy mix of Mongolian folk and more contemporary stuff, fronted by a guy that ... well, I'll let you watch the video.  Words don't do him justice.  And a sure fire way to get a crowd going?  Mongolian throat singing. Who knew.

Tough decisions at 10am
Other than that - The Cat Empire got the crowd up and bouncing but the kind of jazz-morphed-ska they do is not really my thing...super talented musicians no doubt, but ...ya.  Of more interest to me is another (related by marriage as it happens) Australian band, Tinpan Orange - singer Emily Lubitz is transfixing, perhaps not hard to be when you're a 6 foot readhead.  Canada's Danny Michel paired up with the Garifuna Collective from Belize and it was pretty magical - I've always had a great deal of admiration for Danny Michel, he consistently puts out great, creative music - he should be getting a lot more attention than he does.  And there was a great workshop stage with The Brothers Comatose, Hurray for the Riff Raff, and Canada's own Wooden Sky - banjos, guitars, and a lot of humour and heart.
I have to post one of these every year - even if we look frozen and awkward 

Emily Lubitz (Tinpan Orange)

Briga (of Briga) and Tim Scanlan (The Latchikos)

Sara Watkins

Dominic Desrochers  (Bon Debarras)

Alex Burkoy (or Ron Jeremy?), Tinpan Orange

Aidan Knight

And as I've said in years past, it is the workshop stages that make folk festivals the wonderful things they are - the irreproducible moments of magic you'll hear when bands that have never met before find some amazing musical connection.  On that front, I will give a huge shout out to Alex Burkoy, who plays guitar, violin and mandolin for Tinpan Orange.  The man is quietly PHENOMENAL.  During a workshop stage that included artists as diverse as London's quiet, Antony-esque Phildel, horn-fueled singer-songwriter Aidan Knight, and Lena Anderssen from the Faroe Islands, he managed to find a way to quietly support every other musician up there in a way that made their music shine brighter, instead of putting his own clear stamp on things.  So very cool to see.

And the audience?  As expected:  intolerant Folk Fest Nazis still congregate and firmly stake their ground at shady Stage 2, and inconsiderate teenagers watch the world revolve around them during the contemporary music at Stage 5.  As for me...well,  I fall somewhere in the middle.  I just get slightly grumpy with all of them.

Not my most engaging post - sorry.  And as predicted, I'm out of steam.  It will take me a while to get back into the swing of this posting thing I guess.