Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Folk Fest Memories
As I reminisce about this past weekend, where I attended the 30th annual Edmonton Folk Festival, it is hard to pick my favorite concert or moment. So many amazing musical moments culminated over the entire weekend but I will attempt to document at least a few. One of them is just the entire ambiance of Gallagher Park. The photo above shows everybody basking in the warm sun as the Mainstage performances begin but I especially love the evening when candlelight dots the hillside. I also love the people who just get up in the middle of a concert, walk to the side, and just start dancing. It's as if they couldn't sit still any longer and they just feel the need to do a jig alongside the stage to show their musical appreciation :) Most of all I just love how much there is to do. This does pose me some problems, since I tend to be indecisive, because I want to see all these amazing acts but at the same time you want to get in on an autograph session or just browse the craft tent. However, at the end of it all, I just feel extremely satisfied and productive since I rarely get exposed to this much music in just one weekend.
If you read my previous post, which I had a lot of fun writing might I add, you are probably no stranger to my love for Danny Michel's music. He enchanted me way back in 2005 on a Sunday morning workshop session where his warm, raspy vocals and cheeky guitar chords caught my attention. I also loved the fact he didn't take himself too seriously and was willing to push the musical envelope (which included playing a solo using the tones on his cellphone keypad). He definitely did not disappoint this Folk Fest, of course, he did repeat a few of his songs and stories favoring tracks off his new record, Feather Fur and Fin, but he could play anything and I would listen. I never get bored of watching him in action since there are nuances in his performance style that his recorded songs cannot capture. In one song, Into the Flame, he sang the word flame with a stuttering fricative to give the illusion of a flickering flame. He is a master with looped pedals and I just love it when he layers the melodies and harmonies to a point where he can stop playing and just play back all the recorded tracks with a step of a pedal. If you ever have the chance to see him live, take it! He is definitely an artist best enjoyed live. One of the cutest moments this Folk Fest definitely was when he played a solo sounding like the Spiderman theme and when he gushed about meeting "the one and only" Family Man from the Wailers.
Another performer which I loved listening to was Jill Barber. Her warm smoky sound was paired perfectly with her songs which had a bit of classic glamour to them. You can take a listen on her Myspace. She also had an awesome wardrobe! The first time I saw her he wore a strapless black and white polka dot gown with a green sash at her waist and at her concert the next she wore a pink chiffon and tulle dress with whimsical leaves sewn into the skirt. Back to her music though... I bought one of her earlier albums, For All Time, and there is definitely a more Folk ballad song feel to it in comparison to her newer album, Chances, which has a big band and old Hollywood vibe. I like both because her voice sounds great in both genres and it just shows her flexibility and experimentation as an artist.
Oh yes, and last but not least is Cara Dillon. Her voice brought me back to the fond memories I had while visiting Ireland in previous years. Listening to her sing in her adorable northern Irish accent brought back images of the glistening green Irish countryside and the breathtaking Atlantic coast. Something I have always been in awe of is how flexible folk voices are. It is something I never mastered in choir since everybody's ornamentation has to match or else it just sounds messy in a group as a whole. Thus, my voice has never embraced the freedom of folk ornamentation. I always love how folk singers can break out into song without any accompaniment. Not to say that other singers can't do this but Irish folk singing has a heritage of storytelling and entertaining locals at the neighborhood pub.
Some other artists I enjoyed this past weekend:
Meaghan Smith-On the Wed night mainstage, she had a lovely Big Band sound
Alex Cuba-smooth Spanish vocals and electric guitar playing... not to mention an awesome afro
Hanggai-Mongolian power-rock with dense throaty sounds, also, their drinking song is full of fist pumping excitement :)
Souljah Fyah-groovy reggae tunes from an Edmonton favorite
Eivør-soaring, trance-like vocalist from the Faroe islands
Can't wait until next year for the 31st Edmonton Folk Festival!
Take a listen to Danny Michel's "Into the Flame"