I mentioned this last year, but, if there is one thing I look forward to in Edmonton, it is the summer festivals. This town knows how to bring out the good times in the warmer months! Maybe its due to being cooped up inside for several eons in the winter, I don’t know, but damn the festivals are fun!
My favourite, the Edmonton Folk Music Festival. Though, I have to admit, I wasn’t looking as forward to it this year.. partly due to an unfamiliarity with the line up, partly due to a long week at work, and partly due to a chillier temp with looming rain for the day (Saturday).
But the moment we stepped off the shuttle bus and heard the energetic sounds of a Scottish ceili, I turned to my friends with a big smile and said “OK. Now that’s my kind of music!”
That music was Rura. And they started a fine day of Celtic music for me. They brought it. Energized the crowd, and me, happy to be there. Entranced by the wonderful, lively pulsing of the bohran. Fast fingers on the fiddle and guitar. And pipes… hot damn I love me some pipe music!
And like that the worries of work and impending rain are gone. Who cares if I don’t know the line up. I’ve got me a day of Celtic music and more at my beck and call, well not really at my call… at my fingertips? Whatever, I mean I’ve got access to music, all day, right in front of me! And festival food. And festival shopping. And port-a-potties… though I’m less excited about that…
Next on the list is Sharon Shannon. World class accordion player, amongst other instruments. Irish traditional music. And a resume that includes playing with Steve Earl, Sinead O’Conner, Jackson Browne, and Bono…. Yes Bono… (I feel sometimes like my life is a game of six degrees of separation from Bono, lol.)
Anyways. I am totally in love with whatever the instrument is that is percussion through what seemed like just a foot pedal that Sharon Shannon’s band-mate played (while playing other instruments at the same time… crazy, the coordination and talent!). I couldn’t really see what it was from where I sat so it seemed magical – the guy was merely stomping his foot and this incredible drum sound resonated… magic I tell you!
I found another ceili later in the day, this one hosted by the Step Crew, a phenomenal gathering of musicians and step dancers… They brought the house down!
So much fun! And I don’t know what I did to the exposure but I am digging this photo!
And then… my absolute favourite part of Folk Fest – they run ‘Workshops’ throughout the festival, which involve a number of different artists/groups coming together on one stage. The musicians usually start with each act doing their own stuff for one round. Then the next sets of rounds also have each act doing their own thing, but the other musicians dive right in and jam together.
It’s not rehearsed, and sometimes (maybe most times even) the musicians have never played together. But every time I’ve seen these workshops, there’s this crazy thing that happens, everyone’s eyes light up, the musicians are having a ball with each other, the creative forces are flowing, and there’s a sense of all them being awed and inspired by each other…. I love this soooo much!
And the one I went to was no exception. It was awesome. Rightly entitled The Master Class, the musicians on stage were: Martin Simpson, Molsky’s Mountain Drifters, Trio Da Kali, and Sharon Shannon and her band. Just beautiful.
And then the sky’s opened up and the rain fell. And fell. I tried to stick around. I really did. I found some shelter, I found food. But I got drenched. And cold. And left early 😦
And now, I think, I’m a little sick… but so worth it 😀 I’m so glad I went. I can’t wait for next year!