Ah, Edmonton Folk Fest, I love you! After two years of COVID absences, what a return to the Hill! It felt so good to be back.
The weather was sweltering hot; the crowds, energetic and so very happy to be in person. In fact – the crowds were amazing – high energy, celebratory participation in droves!
(The photos above are of De Temps Antan and their wildly appreciative audience.)
There is always dancing on the sides of the stages at Folk Fest, people moved by the music, moving to the music, but wow! This year! Masses of people were standing up, dancing, doing conga lines, celtic dancing, grooving, jiving- on the sides, in the front of the stage, throughout the audience. It was truly magical to behold! Apparently Edmonton missed our Folk Fest!
The musicians seemed abuzz with the energy and glorious-ness of the Fest as well. I’ve said it before, but I just adore the workshop sessions – the gathering of musicians onto one stage to jam together as each individual/group plays their own stuff in turns and the others join in.
It is always spectacular to observe – seeing artists appreciate and get swept up in their colleagues’ songs/talent. It just defines the joy and purpose of music for me. And, again, wow! Did that ever happen this year. The artists were shaking their heads in awe at each other.
Sometimes they were moved to all stand up and jam out, other times they were so mesmerized by each other playing that they forgot to join in. Band-mances formed right before our eyes.
I got so many chills down my spine from the electricity in the air and just overall euphoria of live music on the Hill after missing two years.
Though I am now a Folk Fest convert, and have been for years, I was so excited to see Lúnasa, a traditional Irish music group, on the schedule! I have loved them since my first trip to Ireland in the early 2000s.
I remember clearly when I first discovered Lúnasa’s music. It was on the very last day of that trip, I was at the Dublin airport waiting for my flight home and I was saddened by the thought that I hadn’t had time during the trip to see much live traditional music, which I adore. I also had only managed to find one CD of said music genre, something I had hoped to bring lots of home. So I ran to the record store in the airport minutes before my flight for a last second attempt. I flipped through the traditional Irish music section.
The band logo and cover of Lúnasa’s The Merry Sisters of Fate CD grabbed my attention but I had never heard of them. With no time to listen to it first, I snagged the CD, ran to the counter to pay for it, and ran for my flight.
When I got home and listened to the CD, it was love at first play. Years later, in 2019, I finally saw them live and they announced then that they were coming to the Edmonton Folk Fest in 2020.
And then that thing happened…. that big world-changing thing, that thing that meant (among other things), no live music gatherings.
Fast forward two years later, and there they are on the Edmonton Folk Fest line up, as promised, and I cannot buy the weekend pass tickets fast enough because I am going to every single stage Lúnasa plays in over the festival!!
And I did. I went to all the workshops where they played their own stuff and added those luscious celtic notes to the other artists’ works. I went to their own stage. I went to all the things. And they were amazing. The music, so beautiful. They jigged and reeled, we jumped and danced. They moved us softly, we swayed with the melodies. It was a grand old cèilidh.
I left the festival on Sunday night, exhausted but uplifted, sunburnt and heady, with a whole lot of new music on my spotify. It was golden. The whole Fest was just sooooo damn good!
I can’t wait for next year!