By Carlos Oen
July 13 to 15, 2018
A three-colour wristband on the right hand meant you could enjoy two-and-a-half days of well curated live folk music at Jericho Park. Slowly but steady, more than 40,000 folk music enthusiast descended to the park. By 10:15 am, all good spots facing the top stages where claimed by empty tarps with empty festival chairs. A microcosm of Vancouver´s real-estate reality.
The 41-year experience in the organization of this Vancouver classic was evident. An army of volunteers ensured everyone could enjoy music. Worthy of mention is the organization´s support to welcome folk fans with alternate needs. There were special designated areas for wheelchairs and several shows had simultaneous translation into ASL.
From babies to white-heads (though far more people of the older guard), people moved around the different stages. This was a diverse line-up with an overwhelmingly white audience. When asked about this, NYC blues virtuoso Guy Davis, who next to his harmonica gave one of the best performances of the weekend, smiled. “This is a big improvement from twenty years ago. I love it here,” said a happy Davis.
Ukrainian punk-folk band DakhaBrakha was one of the favorite shows. Their theatrical background contributes to the creation of an on-stage experience that the audience loved. More than half of the band has been singing together since childhood.
The workshop between Ezra Kwizera and Gordon Grdina’s Haram turned stage 1 into the biggest party within the festival. People danced to the mix of Rwandan tunes supported by a pristine and powerful top Middle Eastern band based in Vancouver.
The Bostonian Darlingside where light and clean in their sound. A certain familiarity with Bon Iver. Their concert was all good vibes and good music.
The Death South appearance in the main stage felt so alive! A dynamic cello refused to acknowledge its true size, frequently acting as a double bass. Vocals were flanked a banjo, drum and two guitars.
Iskwé, Quantum Tangle, and Leonard Sumner, represented Indigenous Canadian folk music. Each in their stile communicated a message that was truthful and to some hard to digest. Sumner showed courage and remind the audience what rap is all about.
Locals Petunia and the Vipers where mysterious and seductive. Alex Cuba took the time form a fun concert to thank Canada for being a good host to newcomers. Blues Master Jimmy “Duck” Holmes played blues, talked blues and taught blues.
We are promised the 42nd edition for next year.
All photos by Tom Paille and Carlos Oen