After an action-packed four days of letting my ears soak in as much sound as possible on Prince's Island for the Calgary Folk Music Festival, here is a quick list of what I thought were the highlights:
1) Kid Koala's Vinyl Vaudeville: Disguised as a koala mascot (or maybe as a furry?), Kid Koala scratched his entire set on vinyl. That alone is impressive. But it gets better because the sound was old-school R&B, a dose of blues mixed with bass, and scratched saxophone. Edgy, brave, and a really fun, groovy set. His entourage was a little more confusing, with puppets and dancers and then a very random appearance by Terry from Fubar who took part in an 8 Mile-esque kazoo competition. I was a little lost but happy to see Terry nonetheless.
2) "Old-Fashioned New-Fangled" Workshop:
First-thing Saturday morning, somehow I made it on time for this set and I'm grateful I did. Although I could argue about the logic of the title, this workshop consisted of two parts "old" (Petunia and the Vipers and Leftover Cuties) and two parts "new" (Kid Koala and Calgary's own Dragon Fli Empire). The artists felt a little trepidation about this random mix but they had a lot of fun experimenting on stage. Dragon Fli Empire broke out in a rap alongside Petunia's "Mercy" while Kid Koala scratched blues and Leftover Cuties plucked away on strings. Pretty cool.
With over 1,000 volunteers, they deserve a shout out for all their hard work during the festival. The Media Tent was completely on it and scheduled all the interviews for me, which was amazing. Security volunteers showed up bright and early to chant "No running! Only skipping!" to the tarpies as they dashed to stake their spots in front of the mainstage. And when weekend rafters tried to "accidentally" sneak onto the island to catch Father John Misty ("What's going on here? Is this a festival or something? Who knew?"), security volunteers were on it. Finally, an extra-big thank you to the volunteers in the beer gardens who poured me beer all weekend with such smiles and grace. Boo to the $8 price per can at the volunteer afterparties.
4) Colin Stetson: I don't think words can sufficiently describe the experience of hearing Colin Stetson, other than maybe mesmerized. My core felt his bass notes beckoning from across the island so I rushed over to his stage. The sound reminded me a little of Tanya Tagaq. I can't really describe it but my limbs could just feel that it was something special.
5) Bike Racks: Three cheers for Nenshi for doing such a good job of promoting biking! I've never seen so many bikes at Folk Fest before. The organizers even built a second bike lot on the west side of the island and that lot was also full. For a second, I thought maybe I was back in Amsterdam. See? Calgary's not so bad :)
Article by Alycia Mutual