Folk Fest 2009: Not to be missed

Calgary’s summer music season rolls on today with the kickoff of the 2009 Folk Fest. The pages of this week’s FFWD are replete with coverage but I’ll also be doing blog coverage throughout the weekend so I thought I’d open things up with some of my favourite picks for Thursday and Friday.


The fest starts off with a nice easy night of main stage entertainment. Justin Rutledge should be a good way for me to start things off and I’m looking forward to seeing the loping folk of Iron & Wine . I’ve had 3 or 4 chances to see them at festivals and I’ve always wanted to take in one of their sets but I’ve only ever caught a handful of songs due to schedule conflicts. It will be good to find a patch of lawn and soak in their whole set. I pledge here and now that if I can get a behind-the-scenes interview with Sam Beam I will try to ask ask predominantly beard-related questions.


This is going to be an awesome day. I will beat a path down there as early as possible to secure a good spot for LeE HARVeY OsMOND who I wrote an article about for this week’s paper (go read it!) Then one of my festival highlights: Bell Orchestre! I’ve been raving about this band’s most recent album to anyone willing to listen so it will be super exciting to see them play. I saw them a few years ago at an awesome theatre downtown (somewhere around the Centre for Performing Arts I think) and they put on a great show and that was before they released an album that I genuinely dug. Don’t miss it!

The main stage fun continues with a pair of British acts from not-opposite-but-nearly ends of the musical spectrum: Gomez and the Mekons. They will both be worth checking out especially the former who were an extremely pleasant surprise when I saw them at Sasquatch! a few years ago. In between (and maybe overlapping just a bit) Chad VanGaalen will no doubt provide a serene late-evening performance on the Twilight stage. I have a feeling we’re getting to the point in Chad’s musical cycle where his live show will draw heavily upon material that’s new to the crowd so if you come expecting to hear nothing but Soft Airplane you might be disappointed. My suggestion: show up with an open mind and do your best to enjoy what you hear! These shows are often the best and most special as they give the opportunity for a sneak-peek at the next great album coming down the Chad pipe.

That’s all for now Folkies. The full schedule can be found here .

In closing I’m going to share an out-take from the LeE HARVeY OsMOND story. We only have so much room for stories in the paper and believe me for every story I write there are great quotations that just don’t fit.

Anyways Tom Wilson and I chatted for almost 45 minutes and I could have written another entire article focused on his discussion of the other musicians involved in the project. And while many of us will recognize the names of Canadian music mainstays like Michael and Marco Timmins (Cowboy Junkies) or Josh Finlayson (Skydiggers)

the real veteran of the bunch is a guy named Brent Titcomb who was shoulder-to-shoulder with guys like Bruce Cockburn and David Wiffen in the days before many of his present collaborators had ever set foot on stage! Here’s what Tom had to say:

“He was one of the people that Fred Eaglesmith and I got a break from him and Willie P. Bennett and David Wiffen those guys used to let us open up shows for them in coffee houses. Somehow his presence without being inhibiting at all his vibe really comforts and takes over the room. And I’m no hippie either I’m a guy from Hamilton but he stood with the congas and shakers and harmonicas right in the middle of this garage and somehow he centred out the entire session. We’d set up a groove and he’d take us to another place so that was kind of a key factor.”

So keep an eye on the stage tomorrow night and see if you can pick out the positive vibrations emanating from one of Canadian music’s original folk heroes!