Kelsey Does Calgary: Folk-me that’s a great festival…
I like folk music.
I like all sorts of music actually, but have always loved the freedom and fun-lovingness (as well as the melancholy) that can be folk music. That being said, when you look at the line-up for this years Calgary Folk Festival, it’s not entirely folk music you’ll see but a cornucopia of different sounds and artists that will delight the senses of almost any music fan.
People were lined up by the hundreds this morning, looking like a caravan of hippies with brightly colored blankets, canvas haversacks and lawn-chairs ready to grab the main-stage hot spots to plant a tarp and soak up some sun and great music.
With seven stages all strategically placed around Prince’s Island Park there will be music aplenty for all. And for those who don’t bring their own snacks, there is also food aplenty. On Friday the food alley was jam-packed with people who could grab anything from Greek, to Mexican, to Indian to the highly exalted Ship Burger and even Gelato sandwiches. I dug into my friends Ship burger and they are just as good off of 17th ave. as they are on it. I also had a nibble on a Sunterra brisket sandwich, the beef was lovely and tender and had pineapple with it to contrast the spice of the sauce, tasty!
The people of the Folk Fest are almost as fun to watch as the musicians themselves. Khaki’s and button-ups mingled with bandanas and bare feet. Hula hoopers and dancers feeling the groove let the music carry them as parents with tots on their shoulders or in wagons wandered by. Some people lay on the morning rain-softened grass napping away while others did crossword puzzles and played Yahtzee on their carefully placed tarps. There’s a refreshing freedom to the atmosphere of the Folk Fest that you just don’t find anywhere else…while wandering an island in the middle of the city anyways.
Speaking of musicians, there were a couple of gigs Friday that really caught my attention. The first on Stage 4 was Etran Finatawa from Niger. “Hypnotic nomad’s desert blues unites the Wodaabe and Touareg tribes on an evolving journey built around laid-back guitars, driving rhythms and compelling voices,” calgaryfolkfest.ca says about the band. Compelling doesn’t even begin to describe the vocal fabulousness that is Etran Finatawa. It’s music you need to give a chance as it certainly wasn’t like anything I had heard before but once you let your mind wander a bit and have the music take over it was quite “hypnotic” indeed.
The other act I caught was The Swell Season. This band was recommended by both Folk Fest Artistic Director Kerry Clarke and my good friend Gaby so I knew they would definitely be worth a listen. Some of you might recognize the name not only as a music fan but as a movie fan. The faces of The Swell Season, Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova starred in the 2006 film Once and wrote the soundtrack as well. They landed the Oscar for Best Original Song with “Falling Slowly” in 2008. Hansard has excellent vocals that can make the transition from happy-go-lucky Irish folk songs to haunting melodies and the ethereal voice of Irglova followed me all the way to my car stretching far beyond the musical utopia that is this years Folk Fest.