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Dispatches from the Edmonton Folk Music Festival day one (Thursday)

William Prince. Photo by Keith and Heather Nicol.

The Edmonton Folk Fest is off to a great start this year, and if Thursday night is any indication, the weekend will be jam-packed with some fine folk talent. The show kicked off at 6:45 p.m. sharp when William Prince took the stage. He delivered a fine set as always and included a tribute to Buffy Sainte Marie, who was originally scheduled to perform this year but had to cancel due to recovering from Covid-19.

On top of a fine set from William Prince, listeners were also treated to a set by Kaleo (best known for his Grammy award winning song “Way Down We Go”), followed by a high-energy set by Nathaniel Rateliff. Rateliff had the crowd on its feet the entire set and it was great to see the hill full of dancers.

I got to sit down with William Prince backstage and ask him a few questions:

RMC: William, would you be able to explain your songwriting process to me?

WP: It changes all the time. I value the words, so I try to put pencil to paper all the time. I’m always playing guitar so the melodies kind of come, and it’s kind of unpredictable at times.

RMC: I know you’ve mentioned Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson as being big influences. Is there anyone else who you feel has greatly influenced you?

WP: I attribute a lot of it to my parents’ listening. I was under a whole umbrella of great music. All the greats!

RMC: I have to ask: was John Prine an influence?

WP: It took a while to find John Prine. It was the Tree of Forgiveness album where I found him. I like to listen to music historically anyway. Unfortunately, he’s passed now but I’m really getting to know him. He was a profound and incredible writer.

RMC: Is there anyone you’re listening to right now that you think people should know about?

WP: I’m a fan of Katie Pruitt. I love her music. I feel like I listen to my peers the most. I really appreciate the writing of Donovan Woods. I always go back in time and listen to Neil Young, but I like to explore new things. I like well-produced pop music as well. I really like Dua Lipa.

RMC: Now that the world seems to be reopening, what do you think has changed the most for you?

WP: We were lucky enough to find roads during the pandemic. I try to be grateful as is. Singing songs and sharing music is a great privilege for my life. You have to really want to be here. It really affirmed for me that this is what I want to do. I don’t know if it’s changed as much as it’s doubled down on wanting to play festivals, share songs, and meet people.

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