Folk Alliance: Heather’s Saturday showcase travelogue
4:30 p.m.: I admit it. I can be shallow. I HAVE been known to judge a book by its cover. Case in point, the Polky Village Band has always struck me as kind of a hokey name, so I’m a little ambivalent about checking out the showcase by this Toronto band, founded by singer Ewelina Ferenc, who came to Canada from Poland three years ago.
But the sound emanating from the Gordon Lightfoot room immediately draws me in. Ewelina is a powerful vocalist whose voice could peel wallpaper off walls, and her four-piece band of hammered dulcimer, accordion, fiddle and upright bass, anchored by Ewelina’s pounding drum beats, sounds like a party on wheels.
“Immigration is not an easy experience, but when you have guys like this around you that want to play your music, then immigration can’t seem too hard,” Ewelina tells the audience in a tone of tremendous gratitude and sincerity.
Oh Polky Village Band. How can I not love you?
- Folk Alliance: Dispatches from the Wednesday night showcases (Elizabeth Szekeres)
- Folk Alliance: Dispatches from the Wednesday night showcases (Paul Corby)
- Folk Alliance: Heather’s official showcase travelogue (Thursday)
- Folk Alliance: Elizabeth’s tour of the official showcases (Thursday)
- Folk Alliance: Elizabeth’s tour of the Thursday night private showcases
- Folk Alliance: Elizabeth Szekeres’ tour of the Friday night showcases
- Folk Alliance: Heather’s Friday night showcase travelogue
4:50 p.m. – Bill Bourne is tearing into a rockin’ rendition of “Stackerlee” in the Robbie Robertson room as his supergroup, Tricontinental, consisting of Bill, Lester Quitzau, and Madagascar Slim, attempts to showcase its way into a comeback tour of sorts, following the release of its new album, Dust Dance.
The sound guy isn’t doing them any favours, managing to make their deliciously nuanced blend of blues, folk and Malagsy music sound at once muddy and shrill compared with their impeccably engineered albums, but the many hoots and hollers from the crowd and the dancers at the side of the stage suggest the goodness is getting through.
“Buddhist poetry over music. It’s the latest folk craze,” Lester tells the audience before breaking into “Dust,” a particularly cool piece from the latest album marked by vocal lines that are mostly distorted to the point of being indecipherable – making the final lines imploring listeners to “enjoy your time” here on earth all the more powerful.
The trio closes the set with a gorgeous performance of “In the Silence,” which perfectly showcases their unique musical blend. I leave the room in a pleasant trance.
The innovation in this band reminds me a bit of Tragedy Ann, with whom Moonfruits have toured, and it leaves me thinking that the future of roots music is in good hands. I wasn’t particularly familiar with this band before checking them out, but I’m loving what they’re doing. Two thumbs up, guys!