Monday, August 18, 2008

New soul

Last weekend the best event all year in this city occurred - our folk festival. There are people who live here who have never attended the festival, even though they're music-lovers who would enjoy many, if not all, of the acts that perform. I don't understand these people. I've been going since high school and I don't remember missing any years. I love everything about the weekend, and I look forward to it all year. The moment the snow on the ground starts melting, I count down the days. Why? Well, I'll tell you...

Reasons why I love going to the RFF:

1. Music: Over THIRTY HOURS of awesome music! Where else am I going to get to see Jill Barber, Pascale Picard, Final Fantasy, Rupa and the April Fishes, Weakerthans, Broken Social Scene, Great Lake Swimmers, Kathleen Edwards, Suzanne Vega, Jully Black, and Michael Franti all in one weekend? Where else can I see Jully Black and Final Fantasy do a workshop where they sing songs about love lost and found or Ramblin' Jack Elliott and Old Man Luedecke singing about the road not taken? Nowhere, that's where!

"Broken Prairie Scene" workshop where I discovered
a bunch of awesome local bands

"Un Monde Fou Entre Nous" workship with I fell in love with
Kathleen Edwards, Rupa from Rupa & the April Fishes,
Ndidi Onukwulu, and Pascale Picard

2. Nature: Music just sounds better when you're sitting on lush, green grass, there's a cloudless blue sky above you, and you can feel the sun sizzling your SPF-40-protected skin. And even though it rained the final day of the festival, it didn't wreck the weekend. In fact, as my friends and I were huddled under Walter, our gigantic tarp (he's big and cumbersome but when you need him, he comes through for you), we were cozy and together and having fun. And when a band I'd never heard of called Bellowhead came on and the music was SO! MUCH! FUN! that everyone was dancing and jumping and twirling in the rain, it felt absolutely right.

The Saturday evening sky

Sunday evening before the main stage show started

3. Peeps, pt 1: I live in a small prairie city. We have a conservative provincial government and a conservative federal government. There are a lot of conservative people that live here. Very nice, very generous conservative people, to be sure, but not really "my people." Once a year the vegans and dreadlocks and pot-heads and treehuggers and bicycle warriors and feminists and non-straights and socialists and old hippies congregate in the park for three days and even though I hardly know anyone there, I don't feel lonely. Where ARE you people the rest of the year?

4. Peeps, pt 2: The friends that accompany me to the festival are some of the best people on the planet. I love them all dearly and relish the fact that we get to hang out together for three whole days.

5. Peeps, pt 3: A family attends the folk festival. There's Mom and Dad and four younger, 20-somethings - two sons, one daughter, and the daughter's sig fig. By coincidence, I have sat near this family for the past four years and seeing them interact makes me very happy. They are so nice to each other. One person will go for food and offer to bring things back for everyone. People buy each other gifts. They joke and chat and have fun with each other. Whenever I see this family, I want to run up to them and greet them like long lost relatives. This year the oldest brother was working on a cross stitch, but I couldn't quite make out what it was. Good stalkerish paparazzi photos are more difficult to take than I thought!

What does it look like to you?

6. Size: It's a small folk festival. I believe the main stage host for Sunday night called it a "perfect little elf festival." Because of its size, the festival has a different feel - it's more intimate, more personal. You see the performers wandering around, checking out each other's daytime shows and chatting to fans. You end up being 20 feet from the stage during the daytime shows. Small means it can take place in Victoria Park, which is right smack downtown. It feels good to hang out in the middle of the city at midnight and not be scared. Once I stake my claim on my patch of grass at the main stage, I feel absolutely comfortable leaving my gear on the tarp and wandering around. In all the years I've attended the festival, I've NEVER had anything taken from me.

The Saturday evening main stage crowd

7. Food: Oh, the food! This year we have our choice of African, East Indian, Thai, and Afghan. Everything from organic to super-bad-for-you. I shall have my fill of smoothies, butter chicken, and mini donuts.

Mini donuts, where have you been all year?

I've written before about how I feel quite lonely and isolated, how I don't feel many connections in my life. In a lot of ways, the rest of the year slowly chips away at my "me" - at my essence. But this weekend is the one where my soul gets built up whole again.


  1. I'm sorry you feel lonely and isolated at times - I guess we all do at some points but some feel it more strongly than others. Anyway, I hope this festival really brings you a lot of cheer. You may have to seek more of these type of events out for yourself. I love the idea of being outdoor with the food and music. What fun!

  2. Nice--sounds awesome. And you always tell me that I listen to music you've never heard of, but I haven't heard of 90% of the performers you mentioned. I HAVE heard of Bellowhead, however. They're sort of nouveau-celtic,no? I've also heard of and/or heard BSS, GLS, and Suzanne Vega. But of the other ones, are there any you can highly recommend? Rupa and the April Fishes is at least an intriguing name.

    Sadly, Boston had no decent music festivals nearby. The closest thing is the Newport Folk Festival, and the headliner there this year was Jimmy Buffet. So, not so much with the actual "folk" there anymore.

  3. Outdoor music festivals are THE BEST! Even bad music sounds good when you're sitting on grass in the sun. EJP, check your e-mail for some wine-fueled festival notes.

    Oh, and don't knock Jimmy Buffet! I went to Vegas during my birthday last year with my mom and my sister and we totally got wasted away in Margaritaville on the strip. Good times.

  4. I didn't get to see any of the main stage performances...I was stuck in my booth. Luckily though, the sound was good, and we got to rock out to awesome music all weekend!