Home 2024 festivals Dispatches from the Mariposa Folk Festival – Day 2 (Saturday) daytime workshops

Dispatches from the Mariposa Folk Festival – Day 2 (Saturday) daytime workshops

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Jesse Cook (left). Photo by Richard Barry.

For weather watchers going into this weekend’s Mariposa Folk Festival — and who isn’t a weather watcher among festival goers and organizers —things looked pretty dicey right up until yesterday.

Fortunately, the weather gods and goddesses decided to look kindly on this year’s offering and, but for a bit of drizzle for a short while Friday night and a drop or two on Saturday afternoon, things were dry and sunny and quite spectacular.

In fact, for much of Saturday, there was something of a sauna effect, which made it easy to imagine a thunderstorm might be coming. That didn’t happen and forecasters are calling for clear skies through Sunday.

With that out of the way, I’d like to start with kudos for the organizers when they are well deserved, and they are from what I could see.

Another sell-out

An announcement on Friday evening from the main stage made it official that this year’s festival is another sellout, which means that there were massive numbers of people on site. You can hardly blame a festival for being a raging success, but it does mean that all sorts of services from free cold water, to cooling stations, to food concessions, to the porta-potties we love so well have to serve very large crowds, though everything and everyone
seemed to be handling it well. Congratulations all around.

Experienced festival-goers know well the dilemma of whether to spend all weekend chasing favorite acts or to make an honest attempt at exposure to some new music, which is after all one of the best things about folk festivals.

I’ll admit I did a bit of both on Saturday afternoon. A disclaimer here is that this is what I happened to catch on Saturday. Other people would have been drawn to or stumbled upon other things that would have been similarly entertaining. This just happened to be my afternoon.

Colin Linden. Photo by Richard Barry.

The first thing I ran into, meaning I was drawn to the sound as I first got on site at 11:00 a.m., was a sweet workshop at the Estelle Klein Stage featuring Old Man Luedecke, Carleigh Aikins, and members of Union Duke.

I’m quite well acquainted with Old Man Luedecke, but the other two acts are new to me and were well worth checking out. Carleigh is a multi-faceted artist and vocalist; Union Duke call themselves a combination of alt-rock and twang. It was a great way to begin the day and some new music for my ears.

Next it was over to the Boho Stage, which is probably the most scenic stage at Mariposa as it is set at the end of a peninsula so as you look at the stage you can view the lake behind it and all sorts of recreational activity on it. At this workshop, the 12:20 p.m. slot, was Cat Clyde, Mia Kelly, Amanda Rheaume, and the Good Lovelies. I had just seen Cat Clyde the night before at the mainstage; she is a great singer of blues and more, based in rural Ontario; Amanda Rheaume is best-known for and very well-regarded in the heartland rock genre; Mia Kelly is a young up-and-coming singer-songwriter out of Gatineau who sings in French and English; and the Good Lovelies consist of Kerri Ough, Sue Passmore and Caroline Marie Brooks and are known for their fine harmonies and songwriting chops. Loved this workshop and all the fine talent performing. A little bit new for me and some
familiar.

Old favourites and new discoveries

Speaking of familiar, it was then back over to the Estelle Klein Stage to see Ken Whiteley’s solo workshop with Ken accompanied by a band with banjo, bass, drums, and an accompanying vocalist. Yes, if Ken is on site I’m going to spend some time checking him out as he is undoubtedly one of my favourite performers, not only for the passion he brings to presenting important aspects of the roots music tradition, but also the way he shares the deep knowledge he has gained about it over the years.

And then it was time for a pint. I only mention this because one of the places to get a cold one was in a big tent that also housed a Mariposa open mic. I love the fact that people can sign-up to play a few tunes in a relaxed and appreciative atmosphere. For the time it took for me to drink a pint I heard some very fine music including original material by some people passionate about showing us what they can do.

One act that I saw very briefly though want to hear more from is a group called Onion Honey at the Mariposa Pub Stage. They are what you call an old-fashioned string band, and they are out of Kitchener-Waterloo. Sounded great.

To end my day, I went back over to the Boho Stage to catch the extraordinarily talented Colin Linden. Again, someone I know well but could not miss. If you don’t know, Colin has played on over 500 albums and has an amazing 25 Juno Award nominations and nine wins. He is a virtuoso guitar player, fine singer, and also a great storyteller. I had heard him tell the fascinating story of his relationship to blues legend Howlin’ Wolf, and I enjoyed hearing it once again at the day’s workshop. It was a great way to end the afternoon’s program before the evening mainstage began.

So that was my afternoon. If there was a small fly in the ointment for me it was the price of the food on site. I know food is expensive everywhere, but $8 for a bag of caramel corn struck me as extreme. The cheapest bit of food one could buy was a hot dog and a pop for around $11. It can’t be easy for families.

All in all, it continues to be a beautifully run festival with a very eclectic line-up, plenty of diversity to appeal to a broad cross-section of festival goers. A great day.

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