July 13, 2009
201: Festival Banner Crop
Top row (left to right): Iron & Wine, Okkervil River, Patrick Watson. Middle row (left to right): Great Lake Swimmers, Josh Ritter, Neko Case. Bottom row (left to right): Hey Rosetta!, Serena Ryder, Elvis Costello.
"Alright Winnipeg, check this sh*t out" – Afie Jurvanen (aka Bahamas)
This year's Winnipeg Folk Festival was spectacular, for me, on many levels. But principally two: talent and weather. The latter goes without explanation; for myself, a lousy forecast can dampen even the best show – fortunately I can't think of too many examples where this has happened. So, lucky me.
But the crew behind the scenes, who patch this whole thing together, put forth an incredible lineup for 2009 – in my humble opinion, the best ever. Frankly, somebody there must have read my mind. Some notes from this year's festival:
The continuation of a second night-time stage has been a huge blessing, and this year's was, by leaps and bounds, the best. Between the only scheduled showing by late addition Hey Rosetta! On Friday, a quick pop-in for a screening of The Big Snit on Saturday and back-to-back concerts on Sunday from Patrick Watson and Great Lake Swimmers, the old guard can have their main stage.
Patrick Watson (the man) and Patrick Watson (the band) were lights-out. I hadn't seen them before, and had no clue how they'd manage to put across live what they do on their albums (having a most daring percussionist doesn't hurt). I only wished I'd waded in closer to see his homemade mobile soundsystem, which I could only describe as a backpack/coat-rack of megaphones. Their Sunday workshop with Danny Barnes, human beat-box C.R. Avery and klezmer-rapper Socalled was quite fine in its own right. A ton of improvised fun, anyways.
The Great Lake Swimmers put in an appearance or ten, or so it felt, holding their own against Josh Ritter and Neko Case (Saturday afternoon), and the bombastic Okkervil River (Sunday). Arguably the hardest-working band of the festival, they capped off the weekend with a rousing version of "I Am Part Of A Large Family" with Serena Ryder, complete with a rose-red sunset.
These sideshows almost make me forget my personal highlights of the evening main stage, the specially-added Wednesday marathon from Elvis Costello, the all-eggs-in-one-basket Friday night, capped by Iron & Wine and my lady crush Case (led off with the happiest man in the business, my man-crush Mr. Ritter) and a Saturday bash with the 11-piece British party band Bellowhead – complete with tuba solo.
I had a great time with my camera this year, shoehorning my way up close for some of the daytime shows. Bigger, crisper looks at any of these photos can be had here.