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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Folk Festival Shines Despite Unpredictable Weather Pt. 1

Great music, friendly people, and a healthy dose of positive vibe prove once again that the Winnipeg Folk Festival is the premiere summer music event in North America.

Although it’s over, the memories will shine on for many moons.

I want to take a moment to thank the hundreds of volunteers and all of the board of directors and staff who made this years festival possible. I admire you all. A special thanks to Chris Frayer (Artistic Director) for all of your hard work in pulling this off. I can only imagine the endless hours of work you do all year round in building a four day musical event like this. It was great to see you all smiles on Thursday evening.

By the way Chris, last year I suggested on the festival comment form that you bring both Robert Randolph & the Family Band and Calexico to Winnipeg.

Amazingly, you did!

Even though it’s unlikely my comment form made it past the recycling bin, I can’t thank you enough. Now I know you don’t know me from beans but, I am one of several community radio volunteers who tirelessly promote this music festival - rain or shine. In fact today on KAXE 91.7 FM, I heard volunteer and festival attendee Susan Lick playing artists featured at the festival. How many folks do you know that can say that?

By the way Chris, I set a goal this year to watch as much as music as possible or drop from sheer exhaustion.

Both happened.

We all know that it’s virtually impossible to witness every show on the bill, although I certainly made a valiant attempt at it. I was strong just up to the finish line before having to wimp or perhaps limp back to base-camp, missing both the Ray Davies’ headline performance and the festival finale. Too bad as I understand Davies put on a great concert.

We had a campfire instead and listened to the I'm Not There Soundtrack.

BW Trout fell asleep in his chair.

Harborstar fell asleep in his chair but managed to awaken to Calexico and Willie Nelson's version of Dylan's "Senor"

Upon awakening in the morning, I expected to read Monday’s Winnipeg Sun headlines, " The Kinks Re-Unite at WFF 2008!...... in other news, Two USA campers snap over missing the Kinks!"

It didn't happen.

What you don't know is that the very first concert I ever attended featured the Kinks. Back then I learned about paranoia.......





: > )
***

Ok, I'm getting ahead of myself. Let me back up. After all, this is supposed to be a two or three part blog installment. These reflections take time mind you. Things like work, Adoration, dinner, and a bike ride get in the way.


Tonight I tallied up the results:

Total continuous hours of music watched = approx. 34 hours.
Total number of concerts, tweeners, and workshops watched = approx. 30.
Total number of wrecked ponchos = approx. 1
Total number of herbaceous plants I got wrong on my last, most important MN DNR job interview=7 1/2.










Imagine.... 34 hours of non-stop music.
Seems daunting doesn’t it?

Fortunately, this does not include the various musical events/tribal-pagan dances at festival camping or the number might be larger. For me, it’s not physically nor spiritually possible to experience as much music as I do and still camp at festival.

Year after year, many younger folk chide BW Trout and I for staying at Birds Hill Park. Maybe they ridicule me personally I'm not sure. The chide, the slide exists nevertheless..... "the real folk festival experience resides across the road, in the field, in the drums, in the tents, and in the _______ (you fill in the blank). "

Yet, some hipsters seem to miss the point.

Clearly, I love Canadians..... and I like to socialize and party like anyone else. But I’m here for the MUSIC. It’s really that simple.

In all fairness, I really hold a special place in my heart for Manitoba folk. Although their ultra-liberal trends are too slick for me (maybe that’s in the other Provinces eh?), I still have a kinship for this region. Years ago, on a major canoe trek from Minneapolis to Hudson Bay, my canoeing partner (Mr. John O' Malley) and I met many wonderful folks all along the river and lake systems of Manitoba. Those folks were very hospitable and kind.

I remember.

So yes, Manitoba folks are worthy of praise. Hey, one might even consider me an honorary citizen. After all, my signature can be found in York Factory- one of Canada's most beloved National Historic Sites.

It's there on paper, trust me.

***
A special greetings to Maggie and Victoria. These two women took some time out of their evening fest to chat with BW trout and I during one of our "rare" beer tent breaks. Do they call it the bump here too?

We learned a lot from your insights. Nice to hear about your Polish family Maggie! I didn’t tell you but my Grandmother (Mother’s side of family) was Polish and I love her dearly! She taught me the Rosary and till this day prays for me in heaven.

Yes, I know you made fun of my music schedule and I forgive you……. I think I’m now known in some Winnipeg hipster circles as the "schedule guy" . That’s ok. I can think of worse things to be known for.

For my other readers, a "schedule guy" is one who creates a list of "artists to see" and "pick to click" workshops before the festival begins. This is done as a means for planning out a 4 day itinerary. The list is always subject to change.

It did.

Is this obsessive? Maybe.

But, when you’re seeking to watch as much music as possible, it’s necessary.

In the next installment, I will share with you some of my musical notes. It’s my way of documenting what is always such a memorable prairie experience. Take a moment to explore some of these. Better yet, do the artists a favor and purchase some of their music.

Before that, check out what happens at a Harborstar / BW Trout pre-folk festival base-camp? Here’s a glimpse below:






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