Folk Festival 2008
July 23, 2008
Sunday was the best day — weather-wise, music-wise and otherwise — of a spectacular three-day weekend, at the 31st annual Vancouver Folk Music Festival. Everything fell nicely into place, and a good time was had by all.
Although the 2008 Folk Fest was a Festival quite obviously in a year of transition, with interim artistic director Linda Tanaka holding the fort while the Folk Fest Board of Directors figures out where to take the Festival in future years, and what the nature of the presumed 'corporate funding' will be, thanks to uncommonly great weather and what appeared to be the largest turn out by families in some years, Festival staff would have to consider this to be one of the more successful Festivals of recent years.
True to form, VanRamblings continued to be a pest to political types, on Sunday focusing our attention on lawyer and community activist Ruth Herman, and her beloved, Vancouver-Kensington MLA David Chudnovsky; COPE internal chairperson Donalda Greenwell-Baker; former Vancouver City Child and Youth Advocate, Penny Parry, and her beloved, former COPE Councilor and current COPE Board member, Tim Louis; and to top (bottom?) the day out, NPA mayoral candidate, Peter Ladner, who was querulous (in a quiet way) that we took the time to shake his hand, and wish him well (cuz he knows we're hardly a supporter of his ... he was probably wondering why we bothered to approach him at all — but, heck, it was Folk Festival weekend, and a time for peace, love and understanding).
VanRamblings was most impressed with Mr. Chudnovsky and Ms. Herman.
Although we agreed not to report out on the specifics of our conversation, both felt strongly that the 8-2 Vision Vancouver / COPE deal is hardly a fait accompli, and that there is every prospect that the deal might be 7-3, or even 6-4. Of all the political types in COPE (of which both are longstanding members), and Vision Vancouver, only Chudnovsky and Herman expressed hope for a 'workable deal' between the two civic parties that serves the interests of progressive forces in the City of Vancouver, and by extension, the people of Vancouver, and the entirety of the Metro Vancouver region.
July 21, 2008
VanRamblings will post our full, and thorough, wrap-up of the 2008 Vancouver Folk Music Festival — with more YouTube videos we've uploaded, including Maeve McKinnon in an early morning concert at Stage 7, and Ferron in concert over at Stage 3 in the early afternoon — as well as more municipal politics, and raves about the day and the weekend, at some point later in the week (paying work beckons, a call we must heed).
We've also got some bubbles, but you'll have to wait until late Tuesday, or sometime on Wednesday, for our full-fledged version of the Folk Fest wrap (starring BC Provincial MLA David Chudnovsky and a cast of thousands, including more than a few politicos, and their and our consequent musings).
We will post. Promise. You'll just have to be patient.
Oh yeah, despite VanRamblings' dire pronouncement about Friday night under-attendance, Saturday and Sunday crowds were substantially larger.
Although overall attendance looked to be healthy — the crowds were certainly enthusiastic — it's unlikely that any records were set. A little more marketing next year, a stronger musical line-up, and a return to form — for instance, CBC on site recording concerts for posterity — and a bit of that ol' time corporate sponsorship, and the Folk Fest will be on its way to sustainability. And would we want any less for our beloved Folk Festival?
July 20, 2008
VanRamblings got a late start to the day on Saturday, but finally wended our way onto the grounds of the 2008 Vancouver Folk Music Festival about four in the afternoon. Of course, this late start to our day represents a mighty change from years past, when we found ourselves in line with kids in tow at 8:30 a.m. (or even earlier in the morning), but time passes — even if enthusiasm doesn't wane — and after 31 consecutive years of attendance at the Folk Fest we're willing to cut ourselves a bit of a break.
All of the above said, VanRamblings will do much better on Sunday.
No sooner had we walked through the gates, on our way to lay our blanket down in front of the Main Stage, and who should we run into but old friend and comrade, Gary Cristall, one of the founding fathers of the Vancouver Folk Music Festival, and its first (and most successful) artistic director.
We chatted amiably for about 10 minutes, Gary agreeing that the Festival is in a year of transition. When it was suggested by VanRamblings that attendance was down on Friday night, he indicated that he'd heard reports of the same from friends who'd attended the Festival's opening night.
As to where the Festival is heading in future years, Gary agrees — albeit reluctantly — that change is in the air, that the Festival is moving inexorably in the direction of seeking corporate funding, a notion that is anathema to Cristall and anyone who was around at the inception of the Vancouver Folk Music Festival. But with a debt of some $268,000, the Festival has to do something to address the financial shortfall if it is to prevail into the future.
July 19, 2008
As might well be expected, the first evening of the 2008 Vancouver Folk Music Festival was spectacular, from the sun coming out in the late afternoon to the wonderful folk-jazz improvisational music of Lau, the Africa-infused delta blues of Markus James and Wassonrai, a rockin' concert set by the incomparable Aimee Mann, and a get on your feet and move, dance and rock-into-the-night, evening-ending concert by Ozomatli.
For all the goods times at the Festival, and for however much the assembled masses enjoyed the first evening series of concert performances, VanRamblings was somewhat distressed by the shockingly low turnout, a crowd that we estimated at no more than 5,000, certainly less than what one would have imagined and expected in earlier years.
We'll see what the turnout is like on Saturday, and report back tomorrow.
Perhaps, local performer Veda Hille was right when she suggested to Alex Varty that artists like Sufjan Stevens might bring a bigger audience to the Fest. Next year, when there's a permanent artistic director in place, we'll have a better idea as to where the Vancouver Folk Music Festival is going.
(Note should be made that there was a decided chill in the night air, so if you're planning on attending Saturday evening, make sure to bring along a long-sleeved shirt and a sweater to provide succour against the elements.)
Julian W. has posted on the first day of the Festival here, and Brent Kane writes about the first day, too. The Canadian Encylopedia presents the history, if you click on the link. And now VanRamblings is off to the Festival!
July 18, 2008
Yes, twas the night before the 31st annual Vancouver Folk Music Festival, the creatures were (in fact) stirring and the volunteer staff of the Festival were hard at work putting the last-minute finishing touches on the 2008 edition of this most august and beautiful respite from the maddening world.
Over the course of the weekend, VanRamblings will post on the 31st annual Vancouver Folk Music Festival. In the interim, we'll direct your attention to The Province's Stuart Derdeyn's introductory article on the Festival, the first ever directed by Linda Tanaka, the Festival's interim artistic director.
We'll also point you toward this article in The Province about the "politically charged Michael Franti & Spearhead" and what he'll bring to this year's Fest. And, finally from The Province on the Thursday before the 2008 Festival commences, a reflection and an update on Spirit of the West, longtime folk favourites on the local scene in Vancouver and British Columbia.
The Georgia Straight's Alex Varty finds his fine folk voice, once again, in a series of wonderfully written articles published in the July 17th edition of the Straight. In the Straight's introductory article to the 2008 Vancouver Folk Music Festival, Varty interviews Kris Klaasen, a member of the Vancouver Folk Music Festival board that, earlier this year, dismissed longtime and much-missed Festival artistic director and Fest habitué, Dugg Simpson.
June 24, 2008
Well, the 31st annual Vancouver Folk Music Festival oughta be interesting.
With longtime Festival programmer and 12-year artistic director, Dugg Simpson, out, and Salmon Arms Roots and Blues Festival creator, Linda Tanaka, in (particularly given Ms. Tanaka's recent messy leave-taking from the Shuswap festival), Vancouver lovers of the folk music scene are in for what looks to be a "provocative" folk music fest in its 31st iteration.
For all the shenanigans surrounding Fest management, the line-up of the 31st annual Vancouver Folk Music Festival still appears mighty fine.
On the bill this year: headliners Aimee Mann, Eliza Gilkyson, Ferron (returning to Vancouver after a too-long absence), Jason Collett, John Reischman and the Jaybirds, and Ozomatli, among a raft of others.
In the days to come, we'll highlight the various artists who'll be appearing on the main and artist / musician stage(s) on the Festival site, and seek to provide, as well, an historical perspective on the events and perambulations which have lead up to the 31st annual Folk Music Festival.
In the interim, once again this year the Little Folks Village and stage may be found due north of the 4th Avenue entrance, with arts market vendors galore situated nearby (due south of the area where the food vendors may be found). We'll see you there (here's the ticket info you'll need to know)