Music I Saw: Dry Bones, Mary Gauthier, Fretless, Kim Churchill, Beth Orton, Royal Wood, Chic Gamine, Carolina Chocolate Drops, Steep Canyon Raiders, Steel Drivers, Junior Brown, Sarah And Christian Dugas, Yves Lambert Trio, De Temps Antan, Elliot Brood, Todd Snider, Dustin Bentall and I had no idea what I would miss when I jumped on the Festival Express free transit service. Missed Blitzen Trapper, a cooking demo with DJ Co-Op setting fire to records, Head and the Heart, Devotchka.
I had a lot of fun on my first day of Folk Fest ever and these are some of the things I noticed. There is so much going on, so many stages and acts that its tough to check everything off your list. And it’s tough to get through the crowds, there are lineups for water taps to lemonade, especially on the hot Saturday. And getting to a concert late, gets you a seat in the back, where it’s smart to bring your binoculars. The stages are set up similarly with a covering, I suppose it’s acoustically perfect. It just looks cool and gives each stage a similarity to the main stage. Every artist is important.
There is a strange thing going on at the Main Stage though. If you haven’t been, there is a tarp lineup at 10 each morning, which some people get into at 530 in the morning. This allows you to set up your tarp in front of the Main Stage. I don’t know how long it’s been this way but the people with tarps seem to like it. I sat with some ladies for Todd Snider, on their well-placed tarp, still not a view like an actual concert. Otherwise off the tarps, I could hear the band, just couldn’t see them. It was quite amiable, no one standing to block the view of the stage from about 40 metres away. Some people have strong feelings otherwise.
Because of a Knaan comment about wanting dancers in front of the stage, CBC Radio’s Up To Speed asked if the tarps should be abolished for a traditional style concert and there was lots of opinion. And when I was hanging out on the tarps, the ladies seemed to feel entitled to these positions. But they were also some of the coolest 60 year old ladies I know. We were discussing all the music we’d seen that day and they had been to the same concerts. And they liked Todd Snider songs. They are truly committed to this festival and like it the way it is. I have been to Countryfest and they have made changes recently with their main stage, cutting down on VIP seating. And I saw some of the Cfest organizers at Folk Fest, they loved Folk Fest for the music. And that’s the key thing, the music is the underlying beat of this festival. People want to see all the music and they want a decent spot. I suppose this is a problem with success.
The next problem is the divergence between young and old. I’m not talking about kids, the kid’s tent is amazing. Its about the grey-hairs and the kids-these-days. It was a predominately older crowd until 5 oclock, when packs of younger people showed up at the food tents and were generally civil. The alcohol being restricted to the beer tent was a huge reason. But it’s crazy to see this disconnect and that’s why generally you can ask older people at Folk Fest and they know respected local talent while much of the younger crowd have no idea about some young Winnipeg talent other than when they play the tweener stages. And the Folk Fest’s diversity is not very deep; musically it is, age wise it is, but not racially.