By Carlos Oen
VANCOUVER – Vancouverites know there’s nothing quite like escaping from the chaos of the big city and listening to the diverse and uplifting music programming at Jericho Beach every year during the Vancouver Folk Music Festival. The 41st edition of the annual gathering is a great opportunity to enjoy performers form across Canada and around the world.
Started by a collective of friends in 1978, the VFMF has become one of the longest standing music festivals in British Columbia and among the finest folk events in Western Canada. Every year 45,000 music enthusiasts come over the course of a weekend to Jericho Beach. The park receives over 50 musical acts, 40 food vendors, a folk bazar, and beer and wine garden. All ages are welcome.
Ry Cooder, Neko Case, The Dead South, Carole Pope and Steve Riley & Mamou Playboys are among the most popular artists performing this year. VFMF artistic director Debbie Salmonson has ensured that a variety of music genres and countries are represented.
Son de Madera will play son jarocho, a joyful Mexican style that merges Indigenous melodies and African beats. From Mozambique, Wazimbo and Banda Kakana bring the soft marrabenta singing style. DakhaBrakha will spice traditional Ukrainian folksongs with punk-pop. Gamelan Bike Bike will challenge everyone´s concept harmony with the distinct Indonesian gamelan music. Ezra Kwizera will balance a raspy voice with sweet Rwandan melodies. The lineup also includes performers from Italy, Ireland, the U.S. and Canada.
According to Salmonsen, performers will play in one of the five of the day-time-to-evening stages. In addition, they will be encouraged to improvise with each other in “daytime sessions.” This is a great treat within what already is a music feast for the senses!
“I try to have a representation for different genres and also different genders. This year we have a lot of women and women-fronted bands playing,” says Salmonsen.
The VFMF is conscious about their environmental footprint and have banned the sale of bottled water. People are encouraged to bring their own bottles and fill them up in the different water stations.
Vancouver Folk Music Festival takes place July 13 to 15 at Jericho Beach.