Folk fest workshops give artists a chance to let loose

The side-stage workshops at the Calgary Folk Music Festival can be daunting to navigate. Bands from all over the world are strewn shotgun-style across the six stages that pepper Prince’s Island Park leading to combinations that even the musicians themselves would never have considered possible. Saturday and Sunday afternoons can be hectic though so if you don’t want any of the responsibility of deciding what to watch and what to miss consider this your official itinerary for this year’s workshops.

Saturday 10:30 a.m. Stage 3: Into the Wild

Woodchoppers Association w/ Jah Youssouf, Jay Crocker, Apostle of Hustle, Justin Adams & Juldeh Camara

This promises to be an insane early morning session. The WoodChoppers Association is a collective of improvisational musicians dancers singers and noisemakers that boasts “approximately 1000 members.” Throw them onstage with a founding member of Broken Social Scene and Calgary-based pop experimentalist and the results should be boggling.

Saturday 12:50 p.m. Stage 5: Another World

Pacifika, The Acorn, Tarhana, Apostle of Hustle

The world-influenced pop of the first two bands would make for an interesting combo on their own. Mix them in with Tarhana a band steeped in ancient North African tradition and Apostle of Hustle who blends Cuban rhythms into a folk-pop pastiche and who the hell knows what’s going to happen? Of course not knowing is half the fun.

Saturday 4:15 p.m. Stage 6: Will the Circuit be Unbroken?

Emily Wells, Esthero, Kid Koala, Chad VanGaalen

This is a lineup that actually makes sense on paper but is no less intriguing for it. Emily Wells and Kid Koala provide the possibility of dueling turntables while Chad VanGaalen’s DIY knack for moving from rickety folk to backyard dance party add an interesting element. Top that off with Esthero’s ability to paralyze an audience with her voice and this could be one of the gems of the weekend.

Sunday 10:30 a.m. Stage 3: Some Country for Bold Men

Danny Barnes, The Deep Dark Woods, Luluc, Good Lovelies

This workshop will transport you back in time featuring what might be the best collection of songwriters in the whole weekend. All unplugged bluegrass and folk musicians this group should provide each other with the perfect opportunity to swap stories and flesh out each others’ songs.

Sunday 3:10 p.m. Stage 3: Lost in Cyburbia

Mark Berube, Carolyn Mark, Michael Bernard Fitzgerald, and Justin Rutledge

This Sunday afternoon workshop is all about melodies and you’ll find the finest that the folk fest has to offer here. Mark Berube’s politically infused pop songs Carolyn Mark’s soulful alt-country and Michael Bernard Fitzgerald’s quirky pop will supply one of the more intriguing combinations and it’ll be fun to see them bust each other out of their respective comfort zones.

Sunday 4:15 p.m. Stage 4: Starting from Scratch

Arrested Development, Dragon Fli, Empire, Kid Koala, Mutaburaka

This might seem like an obvious combination — a couple of hip hop groups and a DJ — but throw in Mutaburaka a legendary reggae poet and you’ve got a chance at something special. Calgary’s Dragon Fli Empire will have a chance to be onstage with some other legends as Arrested Development make a surprise appearance on the workshop schedule.