Folk Fest 2015: Who Needs The Main Stage Anyway?

Oh Edmonton Folk Music Festival. Where the side stage music is epic and the main stage is crap.

But the view. Always love the view.

Seriously. Apparently they're trying to appeal to "a younger demographic" and I noticed it more than ever this year. The main stage act were all women who sounded the same, and showy hipster bands. Where is the folk? Where were the men? Where were the actual generation transcending big names?And why do they bring fantastic world bands from half way across the world to throw them on a side stage or plug them in during lunch when no one is listening? I swear I'm losing patience with this festival. Yeah, I know they're not trying to appeal to me. And I know they don't care about my opinion/money because they'll sell out anyways. And yeah I know I'll keep going as long as I get tickets because there's those 3 bands out of 80 that I must see. Dammit.

But the view...

But it was worth it to see the few bands I love and to spend time with my people. This year was...complicated, as a number of different groups of my people decided to come this year. I got stressed about spending time with them all and in the end thought I balanced it well but could've done with more alone time, immersing myself in the music, which was only mediocre anyway.

Here's my top 5:

Le Vent du Nord
Hands down, the best group of the fest for me, which is not surprising since they're one of my all time top 5 bands. They were charming as always, funny, and brilliantly gifted in the music department. Their combo of Les Marches des Iroquois/Papineau will take your breath away.

LVDN - my favourite and top pick of the year

Another of my all time top 5, their concert was good, but I really felt the loss of Chopper on backup vocals. It's hard not to enjoy their sets though, as I know every single word.

I love this band. Not sure why, but I do.

Session: Hanggai, Ross Ainslie and Jarlath Henderson, Brian McNeill, Danny Michel
The music from the other three was fun, but Hanggai was epic! I'm sad I missed their other concert - the Mongolian rocky throat singing - awesome! And the best part was the reactions and banter of Danny Michel! He was hilarious; you could really tell he too was blown away by Hanggai. It's cool to see musicians be fans. I don't usually follow Danny Michel around, but I did this year - he was on fire! And I usually follow around the pipers - Ross and Jarlath were good again this year - I guess it helped Jarlath sang my sad love song like 3 times (usually I get annoyed when acts repeat songs at each session but I'll make an exception for these guys only).

Hanggai. Very different, very cool.

Danny Michel. On fire!

Ross Ainslie & Jarlath Henderson (r-l). Pipes for the win!

Brandi Carlisle
I thought I didn't like her, but I was thinking of someone else. Her main stage show was pretty much the only one I liked all festival. She was spunky and rocky and what a voice. A great set.

Brandi is down there, wowing the crowd.

Wish I had seen more of: Jerry Douglas presents The Earles of Leicester
The scheduling just didn't work for me (opposite of Oysterband) but man, Jerry Douglas can play some mean bluegrass. Why would you bring up the best bluegrass band of the summer to stick them on the sidestage and not put them on the main stage??

Name another dobro player. No? Yep Jerry is the best.

Hmm, so it was hard to put together a top 5. A couple stand outs, some greats, but nothing spectacular. Folk Fest competes with Interstellar Rodeo for my money and love, and it's starting to lose. The lineup next year is going to have to impress me a bit more, or 2016 might be my 15th and last year in attendance for awhile. I think my musical tastes have been driven out by the hipsters.