Talent shines at Calgary Folk Music Festival
Local and international musicians share stages in Prince’s Island Park
Artists from around the world gathered for an unforgettable weekend of good music and vibes at the latest rendition of the Calgary Folk Music Festival from July 21-24. The weather even co-operated, with beautiful sunshine providing a nice contrast to the rain that doused the Calgary Stampede the previous week.
With seven stages hosting performances each day, a small army of food trucks and the newly expanded Big Rock Beer gardens, Folk Fest was never short on things to do, people to see and places to be. Local artists such as Michael Bernard Fitzgerald, The Dudes and Corb Lund and The Hurtin’ Albertans were joined by Canadian stars including The New Ponographers and Kathleen Edwards.
Rounding out the musical line-up, cementing the Calgary Folk Festival’s reputation as a truly international affair, several artists like Irishman Foy Vance, The Tallest Man on Earth from Sweden and the United Kingdom-Ethiopian jazz group Krar Collective rocked music fans ears — in a good way .
“Our folk fest is an international festival,” says local folk favourite Michael Bernard Fitzgerald, who played the main stage on Friday night. “It’s well done, well curated, it’s a real pleasure to be a part of. And I think our city is young. There is some really cool art here, and it’s amazing to be able to bring people to the city like this and showcase some of Calgary’s musical delegates.”
Check out The Calgary Journal’s images of the Calgary Folk Music Festival from Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.
Photos by Jodi Brak
The Calgary Folk Music Festival featured some exceptionally talented Canadian artists across seven stages such as, from left to right, Calgary's own Dan Vacon of The Dudes Sunday on Stage 5, AC Newman and The New Pornographers Thursday on the main stage and Amelie Patterson, who came from Banff to play for Calgarians Sunday on the Conocco Phillips Canada Stage 2. Photos by Jodi Brak
The Calgary Folk Music Festival draws in artists from all around the world, ranging from quiet acoustic singer-songwriters to loud, rowdy rockers and everything in between. Oddly enough, one of the loudest and rowdiest groups to grace the National Stage 4 at Folk Fest is the purely acoustic Lemon Bucket Orkestra, the Toronto-based Balkan-klezmer-gypsy-party-punk-super-band. Photo by Jodi Brak
With members and influences hailing from around the globe, the Lemon Bucket Orkestra reimagines folk songs in their distinct fast-paced, energetic style. With unbridled passion and barely contained punk rock energy, they prove traditional folk music can be hardcore. At one point during their set Thursday on Stage 4, the group jumped into the crowd and started a roaming moshpit. Photo by Jodi
“When have I ever led you astray?” asks Danny Vacon, frontman of Calgary’s The Dudes. “I’ve never told a lie when fun is involved, so when I say come to Folk Fest because you’re going to have fun, people who know me know I’m not messing around.” The Dudes played several sets throughout the weekend, both on their own and in collaboration with artists including Bobby Bare Jr., Foy Vance and Lisa LeBlanc. Photo by Jodi Brak
Kathleen Edwards, a songwriter with a razor wit and no fear of telling it like it is, graced the Folk Fest main stage on Saturday, showing why she is considered among the most talented Canadian songwriters. Photo by Jodi Brak
Although she took a break from the music business to try her hand as the owner of a quaint coffee shop in her hometown of Stittsvile, ON, Kathleen Edwards says she has no plans of quitting music entirely. Her main stage performance at the Folk Fest on Saturday shows she hasn’t lost her edge when it comes to music. Photo by Jodi Brak
Canadian alt-rock icons The New Pornographers took to the main stage on Thursday, laying out some of their signature energetic rock and roll tunes to a packed crowd. The dancing areas were nearly full to capacity with eager fans swaying along as tunes filled the air. Photo by Jodi Brak
Simi Stone joined The New Pornographers in 2015, adding another exceptionally talented voice to the Canadian group that features a rotating roster of talented musicians. Photo by Jodi Brak
Montreal’s Cecile Doo-Kingue has been stepping up the Canadian blues game in recent years, mixing the rich traditions of blues music with rock, soul, jazz and afro-beat influences. She packs a heavy rhythm and a slick solo hand, moving between 12 bar blues riffs and blistering guitar solos without missing a beat. She played many workshops throughout the Folk Fest as well as a main stage performance on Friday. Photo by Jodi Brak
During one of the most memorable workshops of the Calgary Folk Music Festival at the Rigstar Communications Stage 5 on Sunday, Cecile Doo-Kingue said to Danny Vacon of The Dudes: “You sure do write some beautiful music for such a mean looking dude.” Listening to Vacon’s soulful crooning over Doo-Kingue’s ferocious blues guitar solos was an unforgettable experience. Photo by Jodi Brak
A Francophone artist from New Brunswick now based Montréal, Lisa LeBlanc unleashed her signature trash-folk tunes on the Folk Fest audience with a vengeance Sunday on Stage 5. Fast-paced banjo riffs, sarcastic, tongue-in-cheek lyrics and an overwhelmingly positive, if cynical attitude, combined to make smile-inducing folk music. Photo by Jodi Brak
Foy Vance travelled across the pond from Ireland to be a part of the Folk Fest, playing a solo performance and collaborations with Bobby Bare Jr., The Brother’s Landreth, The Dudes and The Sadies Saturday on the Field Law Stage 3. Photo by Jodi Brak
With a captivating stage presence and raw emotion behind his music, it’s no wonder Foy Vance has been catching the attention of high rollers in the international music scene, including Ed Sheeran, who recently signed Vance to his new record label Gingerbread Man Records. Photo by Jodi Brak
Hometown hero Michael Bernard Fitzgerald returned to the Calgary Folk Music Festival in 2016, playing a set on the main stage Friday, as well as several workshops with artists such as Russell Broom, Amelie Patterson and Les Hay Babies. Photo by Jodi Brak
Nashville blues singer Adia Victoria turned a lot of heads during her Folk Fest performances, Friday on the main stage and Saturday on Stage 3, and for good reason. From her sorrow-soaked voice to her ferocious guitar solos, this lady from the South possesses big talent, landing her performances on the Late Show and a feature on Rolling Stone’s list of 10 new artists music fans need to know. Photo by Jodi Brak
When Ronnie Hawkins says, “Come down any time,” you get busy. After sending The Hawk a demo, Baltimore natives Ryan (bass) and Sam (guitar) realized “down” means heading north to play with the Arkansas-born Canadian. Hawkins, known for nurturing artists like members of The Band, put the Maryland boys to work. The education completed, The Weber Brothers broke out on their own 15 years ago. They unleashed slick lead guitar and a smooth stand-up bass touch to each workshop they played, including a frisky set with The Dudes, Cecile Doo-Kingue and Lisa Leblanc Sunday on Stage 5. Photo by Jodi Brak
Everything from trumpets to trombones, accordions, stand up bass guitars, keyboards, synthesizers, beat up guitars and bongos saw their way onto Calgary folk fest stages throughout the weekend.Seen here, a trombone player with The Brothers Landreth during their workshop with The Dudes, Foy Vance, Bobby Bare Jr. and Bry Webb Saturday on Stage 3. Photo by Jodi Brak