Dispatches from the Vancouver Folk Music Festival day one (Friday)
Running late as usual.
5:15 and I’ve hopped onto the wrong bus. Correct that mistake quickly (thank you Vancouver Transit). Missed the big sign where media was to check in and stood in line with everyone else. Got redirected, and handed a wristband for the weekend. Thankfully the organizers are better organized than I am. Five minutes later I’m sitting under a tree near the south stage listening to “Do Right All Night Man,” an old Aretha hit played by Jim Byrnes. Instant calming. Instantly I know I’m going to love this weekend.
I sat under that tree for long enough to leave everything I was worried about behind me. Mr. Byrnes is a tough act to walk away from, but I really want to get my bearings. Heading to the main stage.
In a minute…
Man this man is great performer…
5:55. Finally pulled myself away long enough to find the merch tent. Program in hand, off I go to explore.
6:05. Checking out the food options. Really want to know what a “Chilango Mango” is. Might be back for that. [There’s] everything from artisan ice cream bars, hurricane potatoes, roasted corn on a stick, Mr. tube Steak, and a long line up at the fresh squeezed lemonade stand. It’s hot out. How patient am I? While I’m standing and making these decisions, Amythyst Kiah is playing behind me on the main stage. She’s just admitted to making many of the mistakes I’ve made: no sunglasses, dressed all in black. But man she sounds great. She’s another one who’s going to be performing with American Beauties Saturday night. Looking forward to that one. Will explain it a little later.
Walk a little farther on, and man the food trucks go on. Grilled Cheese, crepes, burgers and fries, a Japanese Hawaiian grill, perogies, teriyaki,…
Japadog! A Vancouver institution! I’m gonna have to find out what that mango thing is later.
6:30: Found the media tent. Made a couple requests for face to face with a few artists. Tonight I’m gonna do my homework and make a couple more requests. Ferron because I’ve been a fanboy since I was a much younger self, and Marcus Mosley of the Soujouners. I really love his deep soulfulness. Decided to toss a Hail Mary and see if I can grab 15 minutes of Jim Byrnes’ time. Tomorrow is going to be busy.
Right now heading back to the main stage to listen to an awesome version of Moby’s Natural Blues. Amethyst Kiah. Amazing voice.
7:00: Found the beer garden. They sell Lonetree Apple Cider. I’m putting my feet up for a moment. Next up on the Mainstage: Aoife O’Donovan.
Aoife (pronounced EEF-ah) calls herself “a folksinger, a songwriter, someone who writes songs.” Sounds like the perfect performer to sit in the setting sun with a cider in hand, listening to her spin stories in soulful sound.
7:20. Settled into a table in the beer garden with a clear, though a little distant view of the Main Stage. Time for me to take a moment, a cider, and reflect on this experience.
First of all is the setting. Jericho Beach Park is stunning. North Vancouver is across the waters of English Bay, below the North shore mountains. I’m in a clearing in the middle of a grove of enormous trees. The stages are laid out; East stage, South Stage closer to the roadway at 4th Avenue, and West Stage, all satellites to the Main Stage which faces west into the settling sun.
I had every intention of catching the Musqueum Ceremonial opening on the main stage at 5:45, but typical to my ADHD self, I arrived later than I intended, and the South Stage already had the great Jim Byrnes performing. These people know how to set the mood pretty immediately. His cover of Aretha Franklin’s “Do Right Man” took all the tension out of my shoulders. I missed the ceremony, and honestly, I can’t really regret it. That was just the first of what promises to be a small list of tough choices this weekend.
Amythyst Kiah just finished performing on the main stage. Her version of Moby’s “Natural Blues” was a highlight for me. It was nice listening to her as I wandered about the grounds getting my bearings. Took a look around at the food carts. Tomorrow I’m going to have to find out what a “Chilango Mango” is. But that’s for tomorrow.
Right now Aoife (EEF-ah) O’Donovan from NY has a smooth sound that mixes perfectly with the sunset.
Just bought myself a few raffle tickets. When I was talking to Lorenz from the information booth earlier he was telling me that some of the vendor issues are still issues, so I’m doing what I can to contribute. There is a fantastic volunteer in a can’t miss neon orange outfit running around selling them, so I hope a lot of them get sold: 1 for $10, 3 for $20. She doesn’t take cash.
In fact, no one here seems to take cash. It’s all tap and pay. Thankful I brought my credit card.
Right now I’m listening to Tiny Habits: a trio of acoustic musicians, two from the US, one from Vancouver. Apparently they became a bit of a viral sensation this last year. Somehow I missed it. I’m going to have to look them up. They sound amazing.
Shoutout to the volunteers who are holding everything together. They’re doing an amazing job. This is a really well run festival.
It’s going to be a good weekend.