Friday, August 25, 2006

Schedule Generator


The Austin City Limits Festival has a cool function on their page where you can customize and create your own Festival Schedule. It's a cool little way to check off what shows you want to see, and a cool thing to be able to send to friends. You can even punch in a code and retrieve your friend's schedule. Assuredly, our little Festival-That-Could probably doesn't have the same budget as the ACL Festival, but it would be a fantastic new function to add, if at all possible. Anyone? Bueller? Anyone?

Saturday, August 19, 2006

These Folkies Clean Up Well!!


Doesn't matter the occasion...we like to RAWK!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Shows on the Horizon

Well since I continue to log in to see everyone's debreif and Andy and I are the only ones who have, I feel like I should throw some dates out for people. I would like to see more contributors so more people can write about their weekend experiences. Thanks for adding a comment Sarah...I am glad that you enjoyed your first fest.

Things to mark down....
Sept 10th: Bedouin Soundclash : Dinwoodie (Doors @ 7)
Sept 16th: Wailin' Jennys Horowitz (Doors @ 7)

Soakin' up the last days of summer
Heather

Goodnight Irene

Some highlights from Sunday night's After-Fest Jam Session, in glorious Technicolor:

Van and Nate practice some dance moves.

Aaron and Tim play, while I pretend to.

The Solitary Man. Nate refused to sit with us all night.

Heather plays while Aaron watches, captivated.

Oh look, my name is Tim, and I'm a multi-instrumentalist. Watch me play the fiddle!

Tim and Aaron both got lucky at the end of the night. Normally, I'd be jealous, but it appears they got lucky with each other.

That. Just. Happened.


Well, another year is done. Sigh. But...it's only 350-something days until next year's show!!! WOOOOO HOOOOOO!!!



Ten (or so) Best Moments of the 2006 Edmonton Folk Festival


11) Rick Skaggs' Jokes on the Main Stage

Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder always put on a fantastic bluegrass show. But Skaggs makes it even better by making funny quips and jokes while onstage. I wish he would MC my wedding. I think he'd kill, even though my family likes to work blue.

10) Feist on the Main Stage

A beautiful performance from a local chanteuse. I always imagined her being very snooty and condescending. I don't know why. But she was playful, and gave a killer performance. Cam and I agreed that she would be a perfect choice to sing the theme song for a Bond movie.

9) Spring Rolls

Lee Gardens, I love you. The onion cakes lacked the normal onion bite, but you made up for it with springrolls to die for. Plus, you moved the line quickly, so I never had to wait long for your springy deliciousness.

8) No "Tubthumping"

Others may have been disappointed that Chumbawamba didn't play their anthem, but I certainly wasn't. The anarcho-punks actually put on a pretty good main stage performance, even if they did make too many Nazi references. Guess what, Chumbawamba: not everyone who disagrees with your politics is a fascist.

7) Teddy Thompson Solo Concert

The son of Richard and Linda Thompson was awesome on Stage 4 on Sunday, even if he was, by his own admission, in a bad mood. That bad mood may have had something to do with the fact that the organizers put Hawksley Workman and someone else with a full band beside him on Stage 5. Using only an acoustic guitar and his voice, Thompson had to compete with a sound bleed that was at times unbearable. If you were watching from the side of the stage closest to Workman, who actually simulated an orgasm while on Stage 5, you would have had a hard time hearing Thompson. In fact, a bunch of us moved to the opposite side of the stage, and Thomspon actually asked to have his sound turned up two or three times, just so he could compete. He still pulled of a lovely performance, though, and really lightened up by the end.

6) Bedouin Soundclash on the Main Stage

A nice main stage performance during a rain-soaked Thursday evening. They did a nice job mingling their own songs with some ska and punk classics.

5) The Phrases

As a group, we dropped a lot of funny lines this weekend. I'm going to save them all for another post, but let's just say we were hilarious.

4) Susan Tedeschi on the Main Stage

Sweet mama, this girl can sing, and this girl can play. Seeing her on Friday night was like seeing Janis Joplin and Bonnie Raitt at the same time. Put me down as a convert. She was my new musical crush of the Festival.

3) Blind Boys of Alabama on the Main Stage

My only complaint is that they didn't play long enough. I could have listened to them all night. They had the crowd jumping for joy, and their rendition of "Amazing Grace"--to the music of "House of the Rising Sun"--was transcendent.

2) David Gray on the Mainstage

I said it before, so I won't say it again. But...wow.

1) Sunday Night Jam Session

After the Festival was over, Van, Heather, Nate, Tim, Aaron and I had a good ole jam session at our house. We sang, drank, laughed, smoked, sang, and sang some more. It ended at 5:30 in the morning. It appears that a new Folk Fest tradition is born. Maybe by next year, I'll even be able to play an instrument or something.



Ten (or so) Worst Moments of the 2006 Edmonton Folk Festival


11) Four Strong Winds

Was it just me, or was "Four Strong Winds" off this year? Really, I shouldn't be surprised, as Bill Bourne was leading, but the tempo was off, and the effort was lacklustre. I knew something was wrong when I wasn't choking up while singing along.

10) Volunteer Rudeness

Two incidents. The first was Friday night, when we arrived. It was raining, and I didn't have my rain gear on yet. So I ducked under the tent at the top of the Hill, so that I could stay dry while I changed. There were lots of volunteers around, and no one said anything. Why would they, right? I mean, I was changing, and it was raining. It wasn't like I was setting a tarp up or something. But then a volunteer walked in, a young lady, and rudely said, "you know this is only for volunteers, right?" Well, no I didn't, because there were no signs to indicate such a thing. And secondly, piss off. Would you rather everyone went home, or that people used a huge, empty and dry place to change for five minutes?

The second incident happened on Saturday. Nathan was walking into the site, with a backpack and a side bag. The backback was full of clothes in case it rained again, and the side bag had a couple of tarps and a blanket in it. Nothing too major, considering that it had rained for the past two nights. As he was walking in, a lady looked at his bags and said, "that's a bit much, don't you think?" WTF? Nate was kind enough to just let it slide. I would have had a comeback, depending on what she was wearing or looked like. Maybe a look at her hips or ass and a "not as much as that is, I think," or a, "do you always go out in public like that" if she had a lot of makeup on. Who knows what it would have been? I'm a mean person. The point is, I would have found something, and I would have felt totally justified in decimating her inferior ego. Rudeness must not be tolerated, is my motto.

I should note that these were two exceptions to the rule. The volunteers at the Folk Fest are always awesome. In fact, I had three nice incidents with volunteers this year. One volunteer busted a lady near the front entrance who was trying to skip into the line. YES!!! Another volunteer stopped me at the entrance to ask me if I could pronounce the Gaelic on the front of my Red Sox shirt (I couldn't, sadly. Blame my Nana and Grandad). And even the Tarp Whisperer on Sunday was nice to me, though his logic for why I needed to fold over a bit of my tarp was faulty. We had a cordial conversation about it, and I gladly made the fold. I'm not going to give him a hard time for enforcing an unjust law. Don't kill the messenger, is my motto.

9) Jay Malinkowski

Okay, the lead singer of Bedouin Soundclash wasn't really bad, so much as he was painfully funny. He was obviously stoned, and kept making the most absurd dedications before every song. "This is for anyone who has ever lost somebody, or for anyone who just wants to dance." Huh? We laughed our asses off, and Jay became one of our favorite impersonations for the rest of the weekend: "This chicken curry is for anyone who has ever lost somebody..."

8) Hawksley Workman

I missed him on the mainstage on Friday, but I hear he was insane. Apparently he was asking people to howl at the moon, even though it was so rainy and cloudy you couldn't even see it. Maybe he and Jay were sharing some peyote. I saw him play at the Festival a couple of years ago, and I felt like I was at an amateur outdoor performance of The Phantom of the Opera. He was being very melodramatic, running around the stage, climbing things, and just being exasperatingly retarded. Yet, somehow, it was still a good show. But it was his disruption of the Teddy Thompson show this year that gets him on this list. I talked about it above, so I won't carry on here. Let's just say that Hawksley is now on my "I wish he would go away" list.

7) K’Naan

The first time I heard your songs, they were great. The second time I heard the exact same songs, less entertaining. The third time? Terribly annoying. Message to Terry Wickham: don't book a kid who only knows ten songs. Message to K'Naan: learn some more f**ing songs.

6) Bill Bourne

Hey, stage-hogging bore: retire already. I mean, really. Talk about over-exposed and overdone. Thank God Bowser and Blue weren't there to do their outdated Jean Chretein material again. I think Nate would have hung himself. I say we put Bourne out to pasture, and get Linda Tillery and the Cultural Heirtage Choir to run the show every year.

5) The Sessions

In the program, Terry Wickham commented on how happy he was that the Festival still had sessions/workshops/wessions. I would agree, if they were still occuring. What is actually happening now is that three artists/bands are listed, and they each play an individual set on the stage. They don't even bother to take turns with everyone on stage, now. Rather, the first artist/group comes out, and plays a set. Then they waste fifteen to twenty minutes setting up for the next act, who do the same thing. And so on. There are fewer and fewer artists who share the stage together, and play together. This is very unfortunate, and I hope it can be remedied. Look how many of my favorite moments from this year happened on the main stage. That never used to be the case. I still want quality main stage acts, but I want to see people make interactive musical magic at the sessions. Artists, skip the rote performances, and take a leap of creative faith.

4) Sarah Harmer

She was fine on the mainstage, but her inability to know what key her own song was in on Saturday turned me off.

3) Rain, Day 1
2) Rain, Day 2
1) Hail, Day 3

I have never been witness to such soul-crushing weather at the Festival. Awful. We made the best of it, but at times it was too much to take. By Sunday, I was mentally exhausted, and had to miss almost an entire day's worth of sessions.


Things I’m Sad I Missed

Ricky Skaggs/Oscar Lopez Showdown

Apparently there was a guitar/mandolin duel that occured at Stage 3 on Saturday. Rather than witnessing it, I was stuck watching sound guys change the stage three times at the Blues Session. DAMN IT ALL!!!!

Things I’m Not Sad I Missed

Betty Lavette, Gospel Session

So I hear Betty was, um, a total douchebag (gasp!) at the Gospel Session on Sunday. She kept going on about how she never played music in the Church, and eventually just sat there pouting. Lovely. It is pretty clear thast she has a chip on her shoulder from 45 years of invisibility. Sucks to be you. Here's a tip: write a hit song. I don't know how her manager, or Terry, let her get onto that Gospel Stage. From what I hear, Linda Tillery and the CHC just took over, and made it all worthwhile. I love those girls.

Monday, August 14, 2006

The NQ

The NQ is a pop culture site that Nathan Muhly and I have been working on since about February. The focus will be on movies, music, television, comic books, video games and literature. Right now, the only post on the site is an introductory message. I'm pretty sure Nate and I will have content up by the end of this evening, though, or for sure over the next 24 hours. Please take the time to check out the site, tell your friends, or even link to the site if you are a fellow blogger and like what you see.

More folk fest coverage will be coming on this site this week, so stay tuned!

Final Day






And so it begins, the final day of folk fest. I was grateful for Andy, Van and Nate as they laid the tarp. It allowed me to rest my knee and sleep....sleep. Met up at the tarp in the morning as a crew and then headed off for a little morning worship. We arrived just as the Blind Boys were playing. I knew then that we were in for a treat with the main stage performance. There must have been too many artists to have one big gospel hour and so they handed the stage to Linda Tillery and CC and Bettye Lavette. I knew something was terribly wrong wtih her first comment being about how she doesn't know any gospel.....GREAT! (Another favorite, that she doesn't understand the women group 'thing!--Shocking!) The best part of gospel hour was that I got to spend it cuddling with Gracie. I think she looked particularly cute in her little pink jumper with her Big Girl Folk Hat. She provided far more entertainment than the stage. It is funny because we were talking about how it is normally one of the main attractions..definitely not this year.

I went up to the tarp after the session to grab a few things. Mainstage was fine but nothing extraordinary. The afternoon "Sing Out" session with Sarah Harmer, The Wallin' Jennys, Lennie Gallant and Sandy Scofield was likely my favorite session of the weekend. Cam and I just laid inthe grass and relaxed to great harmonies and beautiful lyrics. I really enjoy when artists jam together. On this stage they did but it was with rich harmonies and background vocals....LOVED IT!

I grabbed some lunch during the final session of the day and found myself some shade and some time with my thoughts. It was nice to just breathe for a few minutes. On the walk back to meet Cam I ran into Katherine and she recommended that I come with her to catch Teddy Thompson. I appreciated his honest lyrics, his amazing voice and his stunning, stunning look. Men with giutars and a good set of pipes are definitely on my list of weakeness. People should definitley check this guy out.

After the session it was up to the tarp for mainstage. I enjoy Sunday as I get to visit with the family and think back over the weekend and the summer. Tim said it best....it signals the end of the summer. I won't get to that yet. The family is great. It is really fun to have the babe as part of our family. It is completely different than a few years ago. She brings so much joy to our family. It is amazing how you can love a little baby that much. Gracie is developing her personality everyday and is so fun to watch her meet the world. I know she is in good hands.

I did enjoy Chumbawamba. Again some great harmonies. They are far different than I expected. There was no sign nof Tubthumping just a lot of anti-war stuff. I LOVED the Blind Boys of Alabama. They were just rockin and got the hill rockin. I love when people get to their feet and get right into the performance. Once of them men even took to the crowd. Their showcase finale of all the individual talent was incredible. I don't think that you would find someone non the hill that didn't enjoy the performance. The final performance of the night was Sarah Harmer. I really enjoyed her. She is a singer songwriter with some blue grass sound in her new material. She was a real drop in energy from the BBofA which I think put some people off but the last act typically is quieter...at least that is what my memory seems to recall. I am sure I may be corrected for that one.

All in all the night was perfect. Great family, great friends, great music, great conversation...I really enjoyed my tarp chats over the four days...reconnecting with old friends, taking sperficicial friendships to a stronger level and just thinking.

As we left the hill, I already felt good but then it was off to our own session. Armed with a violin, four guitars, good friends and a few bottles we didn't know that the night was that young. I think that I would call our session "Escarpment" (Definition as promised Cam: A long cliff or steep slope separating two comparatively level or more gently sloping surfaces and resulting from erosion or faulting.http://www.google.ca/url?sa=X&start=0&oi=define&q=http://www.geographic.org/glossary.html) All these level and isolated surfaces brought together through erosion - a weekend of fatigue, inspiration and friendship. Escarpments mark a break in geological structures. It was a break....after certain pieces from Aaron and Tim...who blew me away with their own creative genius...left the room rather silent in contemplation and contentment.

It was an amazing night. My body is tired but my mind refreshed. It was another great year. I appreciate the amount of"incredible" "great" "amazing" adjectives I have used in the post...but you will have to let it be...either that or serve me with a yellow card.

Life is good.

Heather

Sunday, August 13, 2006

In The Key Of Been There Done That

It is 2:38, and I have to get up in less than six hours, so this will be brief.

• David Gray was amazing. He and his band stormed out, took over the Hill, and played their asses off. No chit chat, no screw ups. Perfect sound, perfect emotion, perfect result. He played songs from every album. Highlights were "Please Forgive Me," and "Say Hello, Wave Goodbye." He entered my Top Folk Fest Performances list, with a bullet.

• The hail storm was really a shit storm (as Mr. Lahey would say), but we made it. Somehow, I didn't get a single drop of water on me.

• I did not enjoy any of the sessions I went to today. They set up Stage 1 three different times for the Blues Session, and the bands didn't even play together. K'Naan played the same songs he played on the mainstage. And Sarah Harmer didn't even know what key one of her own songs was in. But that didn't stop her from asking others to join in, and then teasing them when they couldn't figure it out. Ridiculous. Thankfully, the mainstage acts made up for things.

• Gospel session at 12:30 Sunday, baby! Oooh, yeah! Blind Boys and Linda Tillery and the CHC. Bam. That just happened. Shake and bake.

I think I'll do some full day rundowns once the festival is over, but it is just impossible to do so now. You are on the Hill all day, and there is very little turnaround before you have to get back. Really, it is difficult to do this blog the justice it deserves--with daily content and thoughts--unless we bring a computer on site with us. And I sure the hell ain't doing that. It would be like bringing a cell phone into a Church. So we'll just keep doing what we are doing, try and add some stuff later, and hope it is enough.

Babylon


Today's entire team made it to the end tonight - and it was SO WORTH IT - David Gray blew my mind!! A beautiful, exhausting day and I finally feel like I'm back in the FF groove. Just in time for Sunday. See you on the Hill.

Now THAT is wet...

So the day started like this:

...and somehow THIS happened:




In case you can't tell, the skies opened up with nary a warning - we had mere seconds to construct the "tarp perogy" that you see above (unlike the burrito we completely enclosed ourselves in the tarp and pinched the edges). Clearly after the last two nights we were less than impressed, though we were prepared. There was at least one soggy bottom boy...


...some beauty treatments...


...and it was beautiful again!

Saturday Hill Shots




Aren't we a cute group of folkies.....nite rockstars

what a wonderful day....

Well...I must say when I woke to sunshine I was rather pleased. I feel like we put enough time in with the weather gods and it was time to see the fruits of our sacrifice. The morning started off with a little trip to Timmies with Cam and a wonderful morning session. It was called "peaks and valleys" and I loved it. Lynn Miles was a great new find as well as Michael Joseph...not to be confused with Martin Joseph....but still good. They were on stage with the Wallin' Jennys whose harmonies made me shiver. It was great. Cam and I then braves that World on A String session only to sit through a ten minute sitar song....not my pick but I still did enjoy it...that is until the hail storm.

The afternoon session that I most loved was Lennie Gallant. Perhaps the man is ready to graduate to a mainstage spot. He is great and plays to a wide range of people. I had some great sister time which was amazing.

For dinner, I would recommend the Butter Chicken and ribs from Sunterra...delightful. Off to the beer tent to catch up with great friends.

The main stage was great tonight but by far the highlight of the day was David Gray. I said it on the hill and I will say it again....that man could sing me to sleep any night....sweet, sweet candy.

Well the knee did not fair well today. I feel like an eighty year old lady. I should give myself a yellow card for the ridiculous limp that I seem to have caught. I am hoping some Percocet and ice will make me less....aged tomorrow. I have amazing friends who take good care of me though.

Nite peacemakers.
The Ref

Saturday, August 12, 2006

It's Raining...

... Yeah, that's it - it's raining. I christened my new lilac, translucent rubber boots (great traction, waterproof and you could sorta see my carebear socks through the toes). I think I'd have been OK with having to wait to christen them, but it's Folk Fest, so what can you do? It's raining, so you dress in rubber and just Deal.

There is something about the misery of cold, rain and desperate grasps for the rope "railing" as you head up the hill that throws me back (sometimes more forcefully than I'd like) to the first few Folk Fests I went to - for every single one the weather would be reliably wretched until about 2pm on Sunday when the sun would come out and the grass/mud slop at the bottom of the hill would begin the rapid decay process and the hot aroma of rotting vegetation would overtake the warm, soothing scent of mini doughnuts and curry.

Back then (we're talking a solid decade or more) I was a young pup and the rain and cold were the test that made me a hardcore folkie and toughing them made me belong. I'm older now. Now it just sucks.

The good news is, the music we did see certainly made it worth it: Susan Tedeschi wailed on the Rock n' Blues stage and actually stopped us in our tracks when she took the mainstage (I confess - we were already on our way out at that point). The Holmes Brothers' concert that followed the Rock n' Blues stage was also great. They were one of my top picks heading into the weekend and I, for one, was not disappointed (shameful that they didn't get a mainstage spot, but I'll give Terry W the benefit of the doubt for both them and Teddy Thompson [check him out!] that they just couldn't make the scheduling work).

On the (admittedly wimpy, early) trek back to the car, we were noting that if the weather had been drier (we can work with cold, if it's a dry cold) we'd have been really pumped to see the Neville Brothers and definitely Hawksley Workman, but something about having soaking socks and undies can really dampen your thirst for music you wouldn't normally listen to. There was more than one comment that perhaps we should just return home and crank up our Hawksley CDs... Ultimately that's pretty much what we did and it was sweet. My buds, my couch, sweet tunes and a roaring fire.

I'm glad I went tonight and just as glad that we left when we did. (I just hope we didn't miss something truly mind-blowing. If we did and you see us, just don't say anything. I keep thinking of the poor saps who bailed a few years ago before the Funk Brothers rocked the mainstage - I DON'T want to be those guys.)

The Hardest of the Hardcore

Friday Night

So we discussed all the duds we'd planned to wear and the disappointment that we'd have to cover it all up with... yellow rubber. *Sigh* Fortunately some of us squeezed in a glamour shot before covering up...




Can you pick out the new guy? (Hint - you can't see it in this shot, but he's the one wearing the leather deck shoes.)


We sought refuge, and then things started to go wrong...




Some hilarity ensued...


And then the duckman appeared and gathered his followers to him...



One final glamour shot

Friday, August 11, 2006

Thursday in the Rain

Van and Janna modelling their rubbers!

Gracie...and her Folk Fest Christening

Andy and Cam evaluating their rig...Mark doing the pose down!

My Cousins surviving their First folk Fest with Smiles and Kettle Corn

Well....the first day of Folk Fest in the rain demands far more coordination than normal. I couldn't believe how prepared Andy's tarp was...hats off! I had the usual Tarp Quesadilla which seemed to work alright. I had a blast as it was a full family tarp. Uncle, Aunt, Cousins...mom, dad....sister..brother in law...GRACIE!!! It was great to see family and friends and survive the weather together. I am pretty impressed at the fortitude of my family. Who knew newbies could be so ready to ROCK!
Here are some of my fav pics
The Ref

Les Girls



I swear, they were this big!

Can it be???

Yes - YES - the SUN!!!!!


And the crew comes out to bask in its fading rays...