July 09, 2012

269: Festival Express

Top row (left to right): Beth Orton, Bahamas, Royal Wood. Middle row (left to right): Casey Laforet, Mark Sasso. Bottom row: Melissa Mulholland and Justin Rutledge.

This year's Winnipeg Folk Festival was only the second one in which I ponied up for the entire weekend pass (the other, 2009's all-star edition with Neko Case, Josh Ritter, Iron & Wine, Patrick Watson, etc.). I've attended 20 versions of the festival – Kerry notes that there's been more summers in our lives with time spent at the Winnipeg Folk Festival than without – and even if the dynamics have changed over time, it's always a good, good time. And it's always searing, searing hot. God must like the Winnipeg Folk Festival – not like the seedy, soggy Red River Ex, or the bedeviled Teddy Bears' Picnic.

I enjoyed catching up with a lot of our favourites like Justin Rutledge, Bahamas and Elliott Brood (who earned hardest-working-band title for soldiering on despite blowing the circuits twice). Reacquainting with big-shots who cut their teeth here, like Feist and Iron & Wine. Getting a taste for new-to-me stuff in Royal Wood, James Vincent McMorrow and The Head & The Heart. Finding out Beth Orton has recovered enough from motherhood to rediscover her performing chops.

But the place just makes us happy. And exhausted. After so many years it's developed into a kind of old comfy shoe sorta thing. And when it's finished, like last night when the sun finally let up and Bahamas just would not quit with the encores, it's sad. The next day is always a working Monday, but it's only 364 days until next time.

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