Festival City: Edmonton Folk Fest 2017

Ashley MacIsaac Main Stage Edmonton Folk Fest 2017
Ashley MacIsaac Main Stage Edmonton Folk Fest 2017

Edmonton may not be the most glamorous city in the world.  It’s not Paris.  It’s not Dublin.  Or New York.  It’s freaking cold and dreary in the winter (8 months of the year… I’m kidding, just 6).  But damn, this city knows how to party in the summertime.

Nicknamed Festival City, Edmonton throws a continuous stream of outdoor events throughout the year, but truly shines (in my opinion) in the summer.  The two biggest being the Edmonton Folk Fest (EFMF) and the Edmonton Fringe Festival (the second largest fringe festival in the world, surpassed only by Edinburough).

Logan Alexis Singers Dancer Edmonton Folk Fest 2017
Logan Alexis Singers Dancer Edmonton Folk Fest 2017

The Folk Fest is heralded as one of the top folk music festivals in the world, due in large part to its continued remarkable line-up each year.  I am recent convert to the folk fest, with this Saturday being only my second experience. And what an experience it was!  The weather was glorious, the venue well organized, the volunteers superb, and the music, sublime.

Ah, the music. The EFMF has this super cool way of organizing the music – the day sessions include a mix of mini-concerts (by one artist/group) and workshops, which include any number of artists who then collaborate on stage, usually each group/artist will take turns playing a song or two of their own work, but they can also join in on each other’s performance, creating these fantastic spontaneous gifts of musical jamming.  And watching each musician become awed by their colleagues is a beautiful sight to behold.

The evening contains concerts on the main stage, but the gates open early in the morning for the tarp run – where people clamour for a spot on the hill for the main stage.  They lay there tarps/chairs/tents down and go about the rest of the festival until the main stage shows begin.

I chose to go for only one day, knowing I’d still be re-cooperating financially, physically and mentally from the many other trips, lines, and concerts I’ve imbibed in this summer. And so I chose this Saturday, because Ashley MacIsaac and Cape Breton’s Finest were playing the main stage.

I love Ashley MacIsaac.  Fiddler Ingenue, Fireball Performer, Musical Genius.  As a huge fan of Celtic music, I am quite fond of his blend of the fiddle with rock, techno, etc.  It just gets in your body and soul and makes you move.

And he and the Finest, did just that.  Fiddles, drums, keyboard, step dancing!  I started my folk fest day with the Ceili Workshop, and Ashley and crew ended it with another ceili…

My favourites of the day, besides Ashley, were Calum Graham, an Alberta-born super-talented, amazing, guitarist; Mohsin Zaham, an Edmonton musician – I’m going to need to buy his album…

and the Paul McKenna Band – a Scottish group.  All I’m going to say is bodhran, uilleann pipes and a Scottish accent… I know it’s a bit of a stereo-type, but as my friend said, they could have just read the list of ingredients off of her sunscreen bottle and she’d be content…  They didn’t do that, and happily there were also some guitars, a fiddle and stellar tunes.   Damn I love Celtic music!

We left exhausted, sunburnt, but incredibly happy and musically fulfilled.

What a perfect day!

 


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