Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Vancouver Folk Festival

Your average Folk Festival is usually an excuse for pseudo hippy types to feel justified walking around mostly naked and completely stoned in public. Mind you, this is Vancouver, and the sun rising in the east is usually enough of an excuse for such public displays of behavior. But still, first task prior to attending Folk Fest was to check with Google on a plan to get the patchouli stink out of my clothes after the show.
Despite expecting to be confronted in excess with The Dirty Hippy, what I found at Folk Fest was a surprisingly laid back crowd of happy concert goers and nary a waft of hippy deodorant in the air. Even the smell of ganja was surprisingly rare. Sure, there was the odd grey haired stoner dancing to the beat of some song that only he could hear and, yes, henna tattoos were spotted, but the high cost of living in Vancouver may have displaced the iconic barefooted, pot smoking, peace and love activists to other parts of the coast. It was soothing to see the clich├ęs that usually define such an event generally absent. More importantly, the music was excellent.
It’s impossible to absorb all of what goes on at Folk Fest on any given day with 7 stages, two bazaars, a broad selection of foods, and for the first time ever in Vancouver’s 30 year festival history, a beer garden. So we picked our battles which consisted of catching random bands in between trips to the aforementioned new beer garden. When it was all over there were quite a few highlights worth noting but the short list includes a stellar performance put on by Toronto’s Rock Plaza Central on a stage tucked into the back corner of the Jericho Beach park that hosts Folk Fest each year. Quebec’s Labess, known for singing alternately in Arabic and French, played a surprise and impressive unscheduled set on Sunday as well. But the highlight of the night was Sunday’s headliner, Chicago’s Mavis Staples, who at 70 years of age still belts out the Soul like nobody’s business.
• Craig Sinclair

MORE photos here! Rock Plaza Central!

All photos by Craig Sinclair

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