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Vancouver Folk Music Festival, 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.

"Things were not good three years ago," the festival spokesperson says, reached at home in Kitsilano. "But even though we're still fighting a hard battle, and we still have a deficit, we're really, really, really in a lot better shape than we were three years ago. We're turning the corner."

He's alluding to the fact that the 31-year-old event has reduced its debt load from a crippling high of $460,000 to a more manageable $280,000. More than that, though, 2008 represents a turning point for the festival, with the departure of long-time artistic director Dugg Simpson.

Klaasen chooses not to comment on why Simpson's contract was not extended when it expired earlier this year, other than by saying, "It was time for renewal." But he's frank about what he sees as necessary to the festival's survival, including new corporate partnerships and the appointment of a full-time artistic director.

As for VanRamblings, we like what long performer, Veda Hille, has to say about the future direction of the Vancouver Folk Music Festival ...

"There remains, however, a perception that the festival has been slow to pick up on a burgeoning freak-folk scene that would be a natural fit with its Jericho Beach Park location. Local performer Veda Hille--a festival attendee since she was 12, and the artist who was chosen to write a commemorative song cycle for the event's 25th anniversary--identifies this seeming hole in the program.

"I'm quite surprised that we haven't had anyone like Sufjan Stevens or Devendra Banhart or Will Oldham or Animal Collective," she says from her East Vancouver home. "Perhaps those people are a little more expensive; I do appreciate the non-star system that our festival has always had. But I do think there's a lot going on in the new songwriters' scene that would be really great in a big park with all those lovely people."

But Hille adds that whoever is chosen to lead the festival into 2009 will be aided by folk music's inherently elusive nature. "All music can fit into that realm," she explains, "as long as it has a truth to it." ."

To wrap this posting, we'll point you to the remaining articles on the Vancouver Folk Music Festival, published in this week's Georgia Straight ...

And to really wrap things up, articles in the Georgia Straight covering the 2008 Vancouver Folk Music Festival, including pieces on Tofino resident, Hayley Sales; Broken Social Scene's Jason Collett; Friday night headliner, the ever wonderful and much looked forward to Aimee Mann; and, last but not least, the group that friend and fellow Festival attendee, J.B. Shayne, is most looking forward to this weekend, the Master Musicians of Jajouka.

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at July 18, 2008 12:17 AM in Folk Festival 2008


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