Annual Music Extravaganza: Folk Fest 2012 Wrap Up

Another year, another Edmonton Folk Music Festival.

Can't beat the view!

This year, I was super grumpy about the whole thing. I stood in line for 6 hours to get tickets back in June. Not how I like to spend my day. The thought of having to get up at the crack of dawn to show up for the tarp lotto filled me with dread. And I wasn't all that excited for the line up.

But it was amazing. Like usual.

All the grumpy hassles were forgotten as we spent 4 days hanging out on the hill, listening to awesome music. We decided not to do the tarp lotto, which meant a higher spot on the hill, but 3 extra hours a night of sleep (yay!), and I actually really liked seeing the big screen close ups. The weather cooperated. The mosquitoes cooperated (mostly). I rode my bike for a bit of exercise, and packed a bit lighter. I was trying to be zen about it this year to cut down on some of the stress I usually feel about the event. My various tarpmates were fantastic. And besides some sunburns, everything was fabulous.

My Top 3 Folk Fest Memories of 2012:

1. La Bottine Souriante - This was my band of the festival and they did not disappoint. They are the reason I started going to Folk Fest in the first place: I saw them a couple times in Montreal in 2002, fell in love and noticed they were playing EFMF that summer, so I got a ticket and went solo to Folk Fest for the very first time. I've been back ever since. All Quebecois bands are fantastic, and so is this big band, with a brass section and dancer to accompany the usual fiddle/accordian/foot taping good time that is Quebecois trad. We were dancing fools during their main stage concert, and they got the crowd up at the two sessions they were involved with. Such a good time.

La Bottine with Paul Mckenna Band, Emily Smith and Dry Bones - feisty session had the crowd dancing!

Paul Mckenna Band, Lennie Gallant and La Bottine - Sandy Silva dancing up a storm. 
I don't have a good photo of La Bottine on main stage because I was too busy being a *dancing fool*.

2. World Session on Saturday morning - David Wax MuseumKiran AhluwaliaSidi Toure and Oscar Lopez  had a great worldly jam going. Oscar is hilarious, and the music just really flowed well together. This is one of those 'magical sessions' at Folk Fest, where the artists they've scheduled together on stage play off each other and play with each other's music to create a once in a lifetime musical adventure. As Oscar said (quoting Amos Garrett): "This is the most fun I ever had with my pants on."

3. Lennie Gallant - I've seen Lennie before at Folk Fest and have a CD, so of course intended to go see him at least once this festival, but his concert turned out to be a highlight for me. He played some great old songs, catchy new songs, and my most favourite song. Plus he told good stories and was funny and jammed well with La Bottine at a session. Can't ask for much more.

They played all my favourites.

Honourable Mentions: Jim Cuddy, Trampled By Turtles, Corb Lund, Arlo Guthrie Family Reunion, Emmanual Jal, Dry Bones, and anything with a banjo.

I heart Jim Cuddy.

And now my grumbles.

The demographic of folk fest is changing. A certain demographic isn't always the most respectable. That's all I'm going to say about that to remain PC but seriously people, don't smoke or swear in the middle of a crowd of families with children etc.

Tickets are now hard to get. What are we going to do next year when the ticket line is even longer because ticket go on sale on a Saturday? I want to be at Folk Fest next year but so do a million other people and the site can't accommodate everyone. It pisses me off that people get tickets and sit in the beer tent all festival. It's a music festival - I go for the music, and it breaks my heart that those of us who are actually there for the music can no longer enjoy it because the tickets went to people who spent the whole thing shitfaced in the beer tent.

It's time to start looking for alternatives. Interstellar Rodeo was fantastic this year, though I imagine it'll be just as hard to get a ticket to next year. I'm thinking of trying maybe Vanouver, Regina, or Winnipeg next year, possibly one of the festivals in small town Ontario, but I'm not sure what ticket sales are like. And I want to go to Montreal one year to see La Grande Rencontre. I guess there's always someone selling a ticket to Folk Fest, and I know it's amazing and I'm not turning my back on it, but I'm preparing for the day when I can't get a ticket.

And that will be a sad day, because Folk Fest 2012, like the last eleven years I've gone, was awesome.