Last weekend I made my fourth visit to the Winnipeg Folk Festival (previous years were 2006, 2003 and 2001). Tammy was at all of those except 2001. We left Mazie with Grandparents this time. We continue to plan on bringing Mazie every-other year.
This years festival was great as always. There were a number of firsts this year too. It was the first year I've been there that my mother wasn't able to go. She's been going to the festival for many more years than I, so it was odd that she wasn't there as well. We preserved the tradition of getting an evening Whale's Tale every night in her absence.
It was also the first, and last, year that we stayed in Festival Camping. In the past I've either camped in the quiet campground, or stayed in a hotel in Winnipeg. The appeal of festival camping is that you can walk right over to the festival grounds. It's also a full party, with pretty loud "festivaling" going on until about 6am every night. Not my thing these days.
Here are the musical highlights from this years festival for me:
- The Agnostic Mountain Gospel Choir absolutely knocked my socks off. First of all, these guys aren't a choir. In fact, their name is pretty misleading. Think of Tom Waits with more pep and bluegrass mixed in. These guys were my favorite new band out of the festival.
- We didn't get to see Todd Snider play, but liked what we read and are really enjoying his CD we got.
- We saw Ndidi Onukwulu play a couple of workshops with other bands. I wasn't digging her stuff at first, but Tammy started liking it and it's pretty good. She has some really nice vocals.
- Elliott Brood, besides having 3 sets of double letters in their name, plays some really nice music. Tammy briefly heard them in a workshop and figured I would like their stuff a lot, and I do. She describes them well as a bluegrass Jane's Addiction. You know...
- We didn't see Carolyn Mark, but also picked up a CD of hers and are liking it.
- Buille is an Irish group that came over for the festival. If traditional Irish music is your thing, you'll like them a lot.
- The Carolina Chocolate Drops intrigued me for a number of reasons. I like their traditional music, and they learned with some of the most significant southern musicians ever.
- Michael Franti & Spearhead closed the main stage out on Friday night, and they just blew the place up. Franti's politically motivated, reggae inspired performance made you want to be a better person. Great stuff.
- The Ponys hit a groove of Americana, Rootsy music that is in my sweet spot.
- Ben Weaver proves again that sometimes I have to go to Canada to find someone in my own city. Weaver is a Minneapolis local that is putting out some really great stuff.
- I really wanted to see Romi Mayes perform but there were always conflicts, or too much sun! She has a great folksy, Americana sound as well.
- When Indio Saravanja did his "tweener" set we all looked at each other because we thought Bob Dylan had taken the stage. Saravanja has an amazing voice, and some great songs to go with it.
Check out these musicians and pick up some of their music. It's all great, independent stuff.
We've already blocked out July 10-13 of 2008 for the next festival. Next year Mazie comes along again.