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Flohil sets up the Edmonton Folk Music Festival … as only Flohil can

Amazingly, I’m not music-ed out after five festivals in five weeks — Mariposa, Winnipeg, Calgary Folk, Calgary Blues, Canmore and now Edmonton. Look, your correspondent is ready, despite creaking joints, old age, bruised ears and a small suitcase that is rapidly getting to the bursting point.

So I’ve got my Edmonton backstage laminate, the programme book, the guest pass for my companion, Vancouver friend Liz Gard, and our lanyards.

This festival road trip has been about personal discoveries. At the top of the list is the oddly-named Revel in Dimes at Calgary with a singer that made Tina Turner look stationary, a Jimi Hendrix lookalike on bass, a solid lead guitarist and a thundering drummer. Wanna bet that they’ll be participating in at least six major Canadian festivals next year?

And what a joy (trust me, I know I’m late with this) to hear The Lynn(e)s at Canmore. The impact of Lynn Miles and Lynne Hanson added up to much more than the two women on stage.

So here we are, the day before the 40th Edmonton event begins. Who to discover this time? I’m hoping to hear Amanda Shires, Kenny Blues Boss Wayne (replacing the late Ron Casat in the Festival House Band), Brandi Carlile (who I missed last year), Colter Wall (who I managed to miss at Mariposa, Winnipeg and Calgary), Darlingside from Australia, Kate Rusby (how on earth I’ve missed hearing her all these years is a mystery), and the Irish group Socks in the Frying Pan, who have an odiferous name, which they should change ASAP.

And in the old friends depatment, I’m looking forward to spending time with Mary Gauthier, Kevin Welch, the Blue Rodeo gang, the Waifs, Shoshona and Raven from Digging Roots, Dan Mangan, Irish Mythen and Andy White. And maybe I’ll have a let’s-get-over-it moment with Ani DiFranco, who I’ve not spoken with for years and years after our friendship fell apart at a Massey Hall benefit for Folk Alliance back in the day.

This is Edmonton’s 40th anniversary, and the lineup (despite the last minute absence of John Prine, who’s recovering from heart surgery) is powerfully strong. To prove that point, so far I didn’t mention Bruce Cockburn, Dervish, Jason Isbell, Rose Cousins, Tim O’Brien, The War and Treaty and a raft of’ “world music” artists from Africa and elsewhere.

If I get through the next four days, my remains will return home next Monday, having penned a final report.

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