Folk Fest newbie finds welcoming, entertaining event

Beautiful weather brought out large crowds to this weekend’s Winnipeg Folk Festival. /ANNE MARTIN

Review: Winnipeg Folk Fest @ Birds Hill Provincial Park (July, 2017) PART 1 OF 2

Yesterday I learned it’s never too late to go to Winnipeg Folk Festival and it’s totally acceptable to do so, solo.

When I was younger, Folk music didn’t interest me or the bulk of my friends. I didn’t (and don’t) like camping and I also don’t drink or do drugs. So every year, Folk Fest came and went and I barely noticed.

With age, my sonic pallet has matured and this year, Folk Fest seemed like a great idea.

However, life had other plans. My Daughter came down with a stomach bug on Thursday and I spent the bulk of the day cleaning bodily fluid messes while holding my breath and hand washing, excessively. A good-nights rest seemed to clear everything up for her and I was still feeling fine, so I grabbed my beach chair and was off to my very first Winnipeg Folk Fest.

I got to the park around 11 a.m. and was amazed at the lack of line to get in the park. I eventually found the parking lot and was efficiently guided to my spot. As I was taking in the fresh air and looking for landmarks so I could find my car again, I ran into a young man who was doing the same. He laughed and said it wouldn’t matter depending on how much of his cigarette he smoked. Hello Folk Fest, I’ve arrived!

I knew this was a big event, but I was still in awe as I followed the group through security and into the festival. There were people of all ages, from the very young (and tiny), to the very old (motoring around on scooters).

I found the main stage and spoke with a very nice couple who advised me to find a spot as close as I could to the stage between the tarps. I waded through the sea of blue crunchy plastic and set my beach chair and supplies down on the grass in front of the sound board. This would be my home base.

My next stop was to find the Green Ash stage for the “Colours, Color, & Couleur” workshop. Most importantly, to find shade near the Green Ash stage; the sun was blazing hot and there were no clouds in sight. The stage as set in a field with trees surrounding it and people were soaking up every bit of shade they could. I found a tiny unoccupied piece of shade which provided me no vantage point to see the musicians. It didn’t bother me because I was too busy people watching and taking in my surroundings.

“Colours, Color, Couleur” Workshop at one of several daytime stages. /ANNE MARTIN

The colours were beautiful; both visual and auditory. I marveled at the brilliance of the blue sky against the stark white tent above the stage. Below that, the vibrant green trees and below that, the people and all their stuff; a rainbow of colours – yellow, red, orange, pink, purple, ALL the colours – represented on the grass in that field.

Dallas Green’s (City and Colour) voice carried sweetly through the air as he started the workshop with “Two Coins”. John K. Samson sang next, then Damien Jurado and lastly Charlotte Cardin who received a loud applause after her first song. She played pop songs which contrasted her indie/folk contemporaries, but she had a great voice and the crowd seemed to enjoy her very much.

“Colours, Color, & Couleur” Workshop was very popular. /ANNE MARTIN

The musicians took turns singing their songs and after Dallas’ “If I Should Go Before You”, I started to lose my shade. I found myself inching closer and closer to the couple next to me, but they didn’t seem to mind. There’s definitely a lack of personal space at a festival where shade is concerned.

I watched the dragonflies dip and dart in and out of the crowd as Dallas sang “Fragile Bird” and during “Waiting”, a man in a blue shirt with the words “Mist Patrol” across the chest sprayed us with tiny, glorious drops of dew, which the clean-freak in me silently hoped were purified.

After the workshop, I reluctantly headed to the porta potties. I’d like to say it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, but I’d be lying. I hate porta potties. Gross.

I walked back to the Green Ash stage to get to the Main stage, and had to stop short because four meters in front of me, Dallas Green stepped out the back of the Green Ash stage. I smiled and kept walking towards the Main stage, which was basically deserted.

I checked on my stuff (still there) and as I was walking away, Dallas Green and his two guys walked towards me. There was literally a football field, Dallas Green, his two guys and me. It was cool to cross paths with the person I specifically came to Folk Fest to see, twice within 15 minutes.

As I was standing in line to get my lunch, I heard the most enticing fiddle playing in the distance. I checked my Winnipeg Folk Fest App to see who it was, and silently willed the line to go faster so I could get over there.

Ten Strings And A Goat Skin (from P.E.I.) was my surprise discovery of the day. They played Maritime/Irish Folk music, both traditional and original, and I LOVED THEM. Ordinarily I’m not into young bands because I love the sophistication experience brings, but this one was crazy talented and really funny.

Dancers at “Ten Strings and a Goat Skin” Workshop. /ANNE MARTIN

At one point fiddler, Rowan Gallant described the next song with a French accent but he spoke in English and it was hilarious! Rowan’s brother Caleb (percussion) looked like he wasn’t going to make it through the song because he was laughing so hard.

Their set was mostly high energy and the crowd took every opportunity to dance. I didn’t dance, but the music was excellent and it was so much fun, I’d love to see them again. I left that show with a smile on my face and mentally patted myself on the back for such a great discovery.

See a snippet of their performance here:

Right now…Ten Strings And A Goat Skin. Love it.At Winnipeg Folk Festival

Posted by Ticketmomster on Friday, July 7, 2017

In the second part of my Winnipeg Folk Fest review, highlights include backup singing with Bruce Cockburn and a gazillion red ants who threatened to chew a hole through me if I didn’t get away from their tree stump.

Good night!

TicketMOMster is a Rock and Jazz-loving Mom; single-handedly keeping Ticketmaster alive in Winnipeg. Follow her musical journey here:

Anne Martin


TicketMOMster is a Rock and Jazz-loving Mom; single-handedly keeping Ticketmaster alive in Winnipeg. Follow her musical journey here:

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