To close off the festival, we encountered the hottest of the three days. It was like a blast of constant heat over and over again for the daylight hours. Nonetheless, we were able to catch some great morning shows and watch the wonderful main stage performances as well.
We first watched a workshop with the likes of Del Barber, Black Prairie, Martha Dunn, and Jason Burnstick. They went through a round robin phrase of discussing their inspiration from the songs of the flat-lands in Canada. A variety of instruments were used, like Jason Burnstick’s tabletop guitar, and Del Barbers innovative guitar playing.
An artist that stood out and I discovered this weekend was the graceful Mo Kenny. She recently won the SOCAN songwriting award for the track, “Sucker”, and although the song came at a bad place at her life, it was hard to tell she’s ever had a sad moment with her performance. Besides the depressing themes behind her music, she only had smiles whenever a song came to a close. Closing on a cover of Bowie’s “Five Years” proved to me how hard she has worked to get to this position. It’s the brilliance and honesty she portrays that sets her ahead of other performers of the day.
After, I went to go to Aidan Knight’s full set performance. Although I’ve already seen him on multiple occasions during the festival, it was this one show that I was waiting to see. Playing with the full band, Aidan Knight (the band) absolutely rocked the short time slot they were given. After a long sound-check, the band rolled on with “Dream Team”, followed by “A Mirror”, and “Singer-Songwriter”. The length of these tracks extended way past their album times, and Aidan was only able to fit in five songs into his hour slot. He closed the set by getting the audience to sing for “Jasper”, which was an obvious favourite, and then got the audience to stand for a personal favourite, “Knitting Something Nice For You”. That track was extremely dynamic compared to the somber version off his debut, Versicolour.
During the main stage performances, two of the performances to me were worth mentioning. The first was from the Irish celtic-folk rock band, The Waterboys. Playing a huge influence on bands/musicians like U2, R.E.M., Eddie Vedder, and The Decemberists, the experience of watching these guys live was brilliant. They were the only group to receive such an applause that they were allowed an encore. “We’re not a folk band, but a rock band. We’re going to play you some rock tunes”, shouted the man behind the group, Mike Scott. It was a grand time of fiddling and rock all into one cohesive dance routine.
Following the set filled with fusion and indie folk by DeVotchKa, the Dixie Chicks leader took to the stage. Natalie Maines was one of the centerpieces to this year’s folk festival, and she blew all expectations out of the water. It was brilliant to see her with a full band killing it on stage, supporting her new album Mother. She claims it’s rock, not country, but the throwbacks to the Dixie Chicks days with “Not Ready To Make Nice” proves the heart of her is with the band. It was a great way to close off the weekend, and the traditional ‘under the sea’ lanterns set the stage for closure. This weekend showed how a festival can come together and create a wonderful and peaceful atmosphere with great music. That’s the beauty of the Vancouver Folk Music Festival.
Be sure to check up for full interviews with Aidan Knight, and Whitehorse