Toronto-based The Wooden Sky fit right into Calgary's alt-country/bluegrass/Canadiana skyline Thursday night as they took the evening stage in front of a packed crowd. It took me a little while to adjust because more than 2,000 fans showed up to see them. Folk Fest has around 12,000 attendees pass through the gates each day, while a "larger" festival in northern B.C. like Artswells has more like 1,500-2,000. Arts on the Fly was even smaller, at a few hundred.
Such bigness quickly felt like a small-town hoedown, though, because frontman Gavin continuously took note of fans he recognized in the crowd who attended previous shows. He said hello to two girls near the front and told a story about their show in Banff where the girls brought the band a huge bottle of wine in hopes they could get on the guest list. They did. He even wished a couple happy anniversary. This fan recognition nicely bridged the gap between audience and artist and the large crowd felt like we were somehow neighbours.
Such a sense of neighbourliness suits their music too. The Wooden Sky is a band that ranks high in terms of danceability, and the crowd danced their hardest to songs on their newest album like "When the Day is Fresh and the Light is New." I was especially happy when they took out a harmonica to play one of their new songs.
Wondering when (or if) they'll pass through Prince George? You don't have to wait long because they're playing next weekend at Artswells. Bring your boots and smiles and I'll see you on the dance-floor.
Written by Alycia Mutual