Another 4 Days On The Hill: Folk Fest 2011 Wrap Up

Another year, another four days spent on the hill at the Edmonton Folk Music Festival. This year marked my tenth Folk Fest anniversary!

And as usual, it was an amazing!

My Top 3 Folk Fest 2011 Memories:

1. Delhi 2 Dublin - I picked them as one of my top 2 pre-festival, and they did not disappoint! They played one session which included a lot of jamming with Gough, Clancy, Bracken and McCarthy (otherwise known as the founding members of the Irish celtic band Danu) and JP Cormier (who picks a mean guitar), but the highlight of the entire festival for me was their concert on Saturday afternoon. They absolutely killed! There is just something about dancing your heart out with complete strangers that is so special - I love when the music moves the crowd to join in together. I danced so much my knees are still hurting. I think they made some new fans for sure, and I hope next time they get booked for the folk fest it's as a main stage act because they would rock the hill! They are coming back to Edmonton September 10 for the Kaleido Festival on 118 Ave, so definitely check that out if you can.

Delhi 2 Dublin rocks the crowd.

2. De Temps Antan - I always stalk the Quebecois bands and this year's was as charming as ever. I saw them do three sessions. I reckon when you book a traditional Quebecois band you can assume they'll jam with any band you put them with, as was the case this year again. I think the ability to pick up and play another acts song is the mark of a good musician, and the guys of De Temps Antan joined in brilliantly with whoever else shared their stage. In one particularly memorable session which also included The McDades, Fearing & White and JP Cormier, Jeremiah McDade introduced their next song as being borrowed from La Bottine Souriante (a favourite band of mine that got me into Folk Fest AND Quebecois music in the first place), an interesting choice consider De Temps Antan members Andre Brunet and Pierre-Luc Dupuis are former La Bottine members and Eric Beaudry is a current La Bottine member! It was at this point I noticed The McDades guitar player (a roving position, never the same guy twice so far as I've seen) was Simon Marion from another Quebecois band I love, Nicolas Pellerin et Les Grands Hurleurs (please book them next year!). They all joined in and it was awesome! The De Temps Antan concert was great as well, it's just so fun to watch them play!

De Temps Antan had everyone's feet tapping.

With Simon Marion and The McDades

3. k.d. lang - I can't believe I saw k.d. lang live, that's awesome in an epic sort of way. I was looking forward to seeing her, as though I'm not a huge fan I do like a bunch of her songs and I even remember this song when it first came out. Her voice is amazing, and she dances around and is generally entertaining. Everyone stood for Hallelujah, and with the evening sky and candles glowing, it was magical.

k.d. lang closed out the festival with her powerful voice.

Honorable Mention - James Keelaghan, Mighty Popo, De Temps Antan and Deep  Dark Woods played a session (including a young singer, Brittney Grabill, who was invited on stage) and this happened...

Check out the 6-7 minute mark if you've only got a minute.

It was lovely. You can catch a quick glimpse of me in that video. I love singing and dancing along. It makes my day.

I do have a few grumbles this year though.

The weird thing about the festival this year: it made me feel old, out of shape, and unfashionable (which are all true characteristics actually, but I don't need to be reminded of them!). After four days of waking up early after 3hrs sleep then sitting in a low chair and walking up ski hills, yeah, I'm exhausted today. Also, I think the beer tent hipsters are taking over the festival, and I most certainly will not be buying into their fashion sense because I'm not a sheep! I do think I'll be training for next year though, a July's worth of being a temporarily unemployed couch potato did not work in my favour.

Also, it seems Folk Fest is now seeing the consequences of its own success: it's too big and popular. There were a lot of people roaming around this year and the line ups were long. There was a whole ticket snafu, with passes being sold out in 90 minutes. I worry about not being able to attend in the future. If one of those people who sits in the beer garden for four days who doesn't care about the music gets a ticket over me next year I will weep on the festival office door step for the entire summer. I'm not sure what the ticket sale answer is, but it's not fair that veteran die hards can no longer get tickets because people who don't really care beat them in the online ticket queue.

And while I'm ranting, the north gate tarp lotto mob was atrocious. I'm not going to go into the nuances of the tarp line up, but this year's was just plain unsafe and not fair.

Ok, I'm done whining now.

All in all a fantastic festival again this year, full of old friends and new friends and fabulous music. I hope/pray/cross my fingers I'll be able to get tickets in the future, because it will always be my favourite four days of the year.