Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Folk Fest 2016: When the People Rocked the Music

When they announced this year's lineup, I was super disappointed. No big names. No Quebecois band. No one I loved. Heck, very few I even sort of liked!

In fact, I almost didn't go. It's such hard work and quite stressful, but one of my music people really wanted us to be there for her, so go I did.

And I don't regret it. Because while the music was meh, the people were awesome. I love my tarp family, and cherish the moments I get to spend with them. So much so, that despite the lineup, I'll be there for 2017 too.

But here's a Top 3 nonetheless:

1. The Year of the African Bands
I always try to see an African Band at the folk fest, but this year was their year and I had all the time for them. Friday's second session with Daby Toure, Black Umfolosi, Joel Fafard and Samantha Martin and Delta Sugar was probably the best jamming session I saw.

Joel Fafard, Black Umfolosi, Daby Toure and Samantha Martin et al.

I took in Black Umfolosi's concert and it was as joyful as ever. Here's a quick video I shot of my favourite song of theirs.

Black Umfolosi

And the last small stage concert of the weekend, Jah Prayzah and the 3rd Generation Band, had my tarp family up like dancing fools and it was a fun time to share together.

Dance Party with Jah Prayzah!

Next year, I'll make an extra point to check out the African groups!

2. Sometimes I surprise even myself, but I really enjoyed The Cat Empire's afternoon main stage concert. I'd definitely see them again.

3. Besides Friday's jammy session, the second best session I was was on Sunday and included Martyn Carthy, Matt Molloy and John Carty with Arty McGlynn, Dervish and the Kruger Brothers. It was a celtic jammy master class and very enjoyable. I had forgotten how funny Cathy Jordan ("Cathy Dervish") is.

Martyn Carthy, Matt Molloy and John Carty with Arty McGlynn, Dervish and the Kruger Brothers

Honourable Mention

The Step Crew was a little showy (they remind me of Barrage), but put on a good side stage concert.

The Step Crew

No super stand outs, besides the African contingent, but another year of perfect weather spent with perfect people with a perfect view of the hill. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

iRodeo 2016: Or Why It's My Favourite Music Festival

Interstellar Rodeo handily won over the crown of my most favourite music festival. Civilized. Relaxed. It was a fantastic venue for spending time with my favourite music family.

Here's my top 3 of 2016:

1. Marty Stuart
I knew I'd enjoy him, because my dad used to play his 'Tempted' cassette tape all the time, but I was surprised he was the top highlight of the festival. The music. The showmanship. The voice. The outfits. And he capped it all off by shaking fans hands as he walked off the stage. A set can't get much better than that!

2. The Strumbellas
You gotta love singing along, knowing all the words, dancing in your chair. They are a great live band.

3. Kathleen Edwards
Since she's technically retired, it's always a privilege to see her in concert. She was high-larious, with her own brand of self deprecating humour, and the songs are as always fantastic. She brought out Luke Doucet to play a few songs with her too.

Honourable Mention:

Henry Wagons only did a tweenter but he won over the crowd with his song 'Willie Nelson'. Dude needs his own full set next year! Check out a short video I shot of my favourite song.

Whitehorse was back, and while I love the duo and their music, I don't 100% buy into all the looping and electronic stuff. Luke Doucet and Melissa McClelland's voices are so amazing that I feel all the extra takes away from that. But fun to watch nonetheless.

Six Shooter Records (we love them!) have treated us fans so well over the years. We'll be back next year for sure!!

Just be awesome...

Book Review: Graphic Novels by David Alexander Robertson

I can't remember how I found out about David Alexander Robertson, through the rabbit hole of the internet at work one day. Robertson is of Cree heritage, and the author of many graphic novels portraying Aboriginal history and present day issues.

Betty: The Helen Betty Osborne Story
By David Alexander Robertson and Scott B. Henderson

A story about a murdered indigenous women, this is an emotional read with not a happy ending.

Sugar Falls: A Residential School Story
By David Alexander Robertson and Scott B. Henderson

This poignant story about a residential school experience, ultimately ends with strength and hope.

7 Generations
By David Alexander Robertson and Scott B. Henderson

Collecting four stories in one volume, this novel traces a family from 1800 to present day, through tragedy and bravery and strength.

All of these graphic novels were great reads and I recommend them to everyone. I opened my mind and learned. I sure hope Robertson's works find themselves in schools across Canada!

Book Review: Buffy Sainte-Marie: It's My Way

In June of 2015, I happened to be in Ottawa for a library conference at the same time as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada wrapped up. I happened to be walking by the park where Buffy Sainte-Maire was performing, just in time to catch her entire set. I was mesmerized. The music was amazing, and she was just...well she's one cool lady. I spent the next six weeks listening to her CDs, and a month later she played a fantastic show at Interstellar Rodeo. Her music continues to get heavy play as my office music.

So I was pleased to come across her biography recently, and excitedly learned more about one of the world's great women...

Buffy Sainte-Maire: It's My Way
By Blair Stonechild
282 pages

And learn more about Buffy I did. Though not strictly chronological, Stonechild takes us through Buffy's life from childhood, to university, to her early music career, to her artistic pursuits, to her advocacy and impact on Aboriginal education and culture, to her later/current music career. She's lived a fascinating life, and I was especially interested in reading about her early music experiences (like the story about the connection between Buffy and Joni Mitchell) and her work with Aboriginal education. Stonechild uses extensive footnotes, and via interviews with Buffy and the people in her life, as well as media stories, I believe he presents an accurate biography. His writing is very accessible: this is not a hard read. In the end, I got confirmation that Buffy Sainte-Marie herself is a fantastic role model, a principled woman who stuck by herself and her heritage, and as I said before...one cool lady.

The neatest thing about reading this book, was the mentions and stories of all the songs and CDs. Some I knew, and could sing in my head. Some I listened to on youtube while I was reading. Some I googled the lyrics for. This really added to the experience of reading the book. It reminded me of the time I visited the Museum of Musical Instruments in Brussels a lifetime ago - you wear a set of headphones as you tour around, and when you are standing outside a display, the sound of the instruments automatically plays for you via sensors in the ceiling. It was a fantastic way to experience a gallery, and I found myself wishing the book came with a similar well timed soundtrack!

I'd recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn more about a Canadian music legend! And pick up the new CD, it's great!