Dispatches from the Vancouver Folk Music Festival day two (Saturday)
10:30 and I’m headed to the bus stop for day two of the Vancouver Folk Music Festival. I’m a little better prepared today. I’ve brought along a tote bag, which I’ve loaded up with a refillable water cup to take advantage of the water refilling stations, dropped my program into it and a loose fitting pair of jammie bottoms that I can pull over my shorts when the sun goes down. I have a change of t-shirt in case I get a little too sweaty, and a light shawl I can either throw around my shoulders if I’m cool, or throw on the ground to sit on if I find a good spot. I think I’m getting the hang of this festival thing.
- When a buddy of mine asked me what I was looking forward to the most I immediately said “Ferron!” To that end I’m heading straight to the east stage for a workshop called The Storytellers. Hosted by Joe Henry and featuring Joey Burns from Calexico, Susan O’Neill and Ferron.
- I’m just in time to catch Ferron playing “The Jewel in the Crown.” As a music lover, I’ve always cared deeply about the words, the message of the songs I listen to. So to sit in on a workshop all about the deeply personal stories of four brilliant performers hosted by the accomplished and personable Joe Henry was the perfect way to get into a listening headspace. Had to give up the Heart Full of Soul workshop on the west stage, but Storytellers was a no brainer to start my second day.
Having Susan O’Neill share a stage with Ferron is like watching the torch being passed from master to brilliant apprentice. And I’ve already said that Calexico is the bomb. Hearing Joey Burns hold his own against the powerful Ferron in the story telling department just cemented my respect for them.
Now I want to hand Ferron a note that says “Ferron you’re a great person” and hope she keeps it with her to comfort her on the road.
From there I made my way over to the south stage to catch the Harmoniously Yours workshop. This one was hosted by Ruth Moody and featured Cedric Watson & Brian Thibodeaux, a creole duo from Louisiana; a couple of lovely young lovers called Twin Flames; and the group Tiny Habits. Tiny Habits I had heard as quick “between sets performance” mashed in between the smooth Aoife O’Donovan and the powerhouse Calexico. They are the group that brought me to check out this workshop. They did not disappoint.
Tiny Habits’ version of Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide” was perfection of harmony.
Twin Flames broke my heart with their song “Porch Light.” It’s a plaintive and mournful tribute to the missing Indigenous woman.
Taking a late lunch break right now while listening to Ruby Singh & the Future Ancestors. Energetic & fun. Perfect for a bite and a cider while I refuel.
That’s the great thing about the Folk Music Festival: even the stuff you’re not expecting turns out great.
3:00, and I don’t have to travel far for the next one. For me, this is one of the real highlights of this year’s festival. Ferron. For a full hour on the west stage. Pardon me while I put my phone away and give myself over to a master storyteller.
“Shadows on a Dime.”
What a great opening. She played so much of her old music, so much of her later music, and somehow it just wasn’t enough.
I’ll be honest, I needed a little bit of a cry, and her music gave me permission to take one.
Tiny Habits are becoming a habit
I decided not to go very far away after her performance. Next on the West Stage: Tiny Habits. I’m settling in for an hour of some of the sweetest harmonies I’ve heard for a long time.
Apparently they have an album you can stream, and one or two of the pieces they played are on that album. For the rest of their set, well, you really had to be there. And isn’t that why we come to music festivals like this?
And oh my lord these guys are awesome. They have an awkwardly cute banter between songs that contrasts strongly with the polished assurance of their music. They are new to the festival circuit, and it shows, but they clearly belong here.
Their penultimate song was a cover of “Somewhere Only We Know.” I’m definitely in love with this group.
They finished with a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide.” Again. Perfect. Again.
Took a bit of a break after listening to Tiny Habits at the west stage. They were the last show of the night on that stage. West closes down before the Main Stage lights up. East and south stages keep going until 6:00; east was showcasing Rich Hope, and south was hosting a Globetrotters workshop with the Medicine Singers, Kayvan Kalhor Trio, Blick Bassy and host Gordon Grdina. Both stages sounded pretty interesting from afar. Very rock heavy and energetic, but after the sweet harmonies of Tiny Habits, I needed to recharge my batteries for a bit.
It’s 6:45 and the main stage is taken over by Toubab Krewe. They are definitely world music. A bit of a jazzy sound with echoes of something Afro-centric. Totally cool, and good to chill out on while keeping an energetic vibe going.
After that we’ll get to hear some acts I’ve heard on other stages; Cedric Watson & Jourdan Thibodeaux from the Harmoniously Yours workshop and Susan O’Neill who shared the stage with Ferron for the Storytellers workshop. Sandwiched between those two acts will be William Prince. I’m looking forward to hearing what kind of sound he has.
The act I’m really hanging on for though is American Beauties. This is a supergroup of performers that is doing a tribute performance to one of the Grateful Dead’s best albums.
The group includes Jim Byrnes, Steve Dawson, Rich Hope, Maya de Vitry, Ruth Moody, Joachim Cooder, Khari Wendell McClelland, Krystie Dos Santos, and Samantha Parton and Amythyst Kiah. With a group of diverse talents like that, it should be one heck of a show.
I’m glad I stuck around after American Beauties’ tribute to The Grateful Dead. Tre Burt was the “tweener” act while the stage was reset for True Loves, which was the closing act Saturday night.
When I think of folk music , I think of art that is emotionally connected to the social reality we live in. This guy is exactly that. Great performance! This man has a few things to say! Check him out.
And I guess it makes sense that they save the most high energy bands for the end of the night. Some of us have been slumbering in the sunshine since Ferron left the west stage. True Loves is a brass heavy and saxxy group from Seattle. Think Chicago with even MORE trumpets. They got us all up and dancing, and we danced our way out of the park.