Monday, July 21, 2014

Vancouver Folk Fest, 2014: There it was, gone.

A quick post while I have the lingering sounds of VFMF still playing in my head.

And here we go - point form style (aka too lazy to do more than that)

- Weather - Prediction was for CRAP, reality was actually a pretty good weekend.  Overcast for most of it, with bursts of burning sun on Saturday.  Kind of perfect in a way.  No hammering rain, which is the only thing that would have truly sucked (other than a tornado or earthquake I guess).  And lack of crazy sun meant I didn't have to scrape layers of sunscreen off before I went to bed.  BONUS.

- People -  Yes.  Oh yes.  First, my most favourite people (not anyone's favourite photo I might add, but it's the only one I've got and posting is an annual tradition...).  Spending a weekend with these two is just so much fun.  Immediately after this was taken we started on a laughing fit of the crying/not breathing variety. It would have made for a more interesting photo, but I was shaking too much to take a shot.

Second, my
most favourite strangers.  I suggested this guy should be known as the Red Centurion, L. suggested Wayward Catholic Schoolgirl (or something like that).  Either way, he's got a good look going on.  And for the curious, he has bike shorts on underneath.  Don't ask how I know.

And a perennial favourite, the gold striped knicker man.  He's a volunteer of some sort, and he wears the same outfit every year.  EVERY YEAR.  And as A. noted, it fits him perfectly EVERY YEAR.  Not an easy feat. Anyway, it makes me happy just to see him wandering about, there is comfort in the familiarity of those stripy legs.  And I'm extra happy when he interpretive-dances.

- Porta Potty Joy -  big upgrade on the porta potty front - they've added what I'm going to refer to as a "hang bar" to the back of the door - soooo, for you ladies used to the classic 'hover' manoeuvre, you can now support yourself by hanging from your hands while doing some sort of awkward pole-dancey squat.  Not elegant, but effective (at least as long as the bar doesn't snap off).  One small step for man...

- Music - As always, a great diverse line-up.  This year I actually had a tougher time than usual deciding which stage to be at, there were so many things that I wanted to check out.  And I was often faced with the dilemma of seeing a band I have seen before and know I like, or taking a chance on something totally new.  Luckily the totally new usually pays off.  A few highlights from the New camp:  The Carper Family and their pairing of a gorgeous traditional country sound with a contemporary twist on the lyrics (see: turkey baster reference in 'Little Christian Girlfriend"); Langhorn Slim and the Law, some great alt-country supported by great performance chops - he had the audience in his hand from the beginning, and he's a lot funnier and more self-deprecating than the video link above indicates; and the hugely entertaining Australian band, Wagons, fronted by the extraordinary Dwight Shrute-twin frontman Henry Wagons.  I took a video of the full Wagons experience, included for your entertainment.  (Watch on Youtube, it deserves to be bigger).  This man was born to front a band.  I wish I could have captured the look of genuine glee and mischief on this guy's face - think 11 year old boy telling his best friend he's just found his older brother's porn stash, and you've just about got it.  If you have the chance to see them live, don't pass it up.  Really.

And once again I started thinking about the importance of performance, and how a performer connects with the audience.  Some would argue that it shouldn't be important - it's all about the quality of the music.  And yes, there is truth to that.  Much truth.  But you can't discount the power of a great performance - it can be incredibly affecting.  And as I've found, some of the bands just don't translate recorded - which brings me back to the rarity of those that have both.  But when you're at something like a Folk Fest, watching many many hours of live music, it's the performers that end up standing out.

Carper Family

Andrew Bird 

Jon Langford (Mekons)

Born Ruffians

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