Festive Folk

Pam and I went to the Folk Festival on a whim last night. Well, to be accurate, I developed a sudden folk festival whim and Pam enabled it. This is why I love Pam. How can anyone live without someone who will do this kind of thing at the last minute? And drive? And deal with her routine-loving son who WASN'T EXPECTING her to go out last night just so I wouldn't have to feel like a dork going all alone?

I always wonder about those people who are walking around the folk festival in tie-dyed bell bottoms or flower-strewn sarongs or asymmetrical fringed garments. They always look so RIGHT and, by comparison, I always feel like a penguin in a flock of starlings. But do these people dress like that all the time, or do they just happen to always have the exact right folk-festival garb in their closet when it rolls around? Do they look right at the folk festival and whacky everywhere else? Is the folk festival the one time they get to wander among their people and feel at home?

We saw some of Amy Helm's show. It was good - her voice was powerful and I liked the music. We couldn't figure out who she was because it was only written on a blackboard right beside the stage, in dark chalk, so even when I walked up fairly close by it wasn't legible. Then we wandered over to the other stage (the stages were way too close together, in my opinion. You could mostly hear the band you were watching, but between songs there was major bleedthrough, and if one band was quieter the other one was really distracting. I don't see how this isn't poor planning, and incredibly distracting and insulting to the performers). We saw about an hour of Belle Star (I love three-part-harmony girl groups. With fiddles.) And then Whitehorse, which I'd never heard of. Except I had, because when I got home and looked them up I realized I had really wanted to see them because they're Luke Doucet and Melissa McClelland, and I love Melissa McClelland, she's all over my ipod). But when I first heard the name, I think I was influenced by the similarity to White Snake, so I was apprehensive. They were awesome. Their voices match perfectly and they're funny and sweet together (they're married) and I love their songwriting.

Also, they said at the beginning that they had just finished a new record so they'd be playing some new songs, which always vexes me slightly when I know the group, but since I didn't it wasn't a factor. But at one point they announced that they were about to play an older song and a man in front of us did a cute air-punch happy-gesture, which reminded me of my friend Collette talking about going into a Wiggles concert with her kids and her husband, who had only ever listened to their first CD and said earnestly, "I hope they play some early stuff!"

While Whitehorse was setting up we wandered across to the artisan-and-snack-section. This brought us past a stage where some odd psychedelic tones were wafting into the cold night air. I don't even know what a sitar is, but it made me think of sitars. I don't particularly like this kind of music - it's formless and ungraspable and makes me feel high - and not in a good way. From the schedule, it looks like it must have been Patrick Watson (ah yes - 'experimental musicianship', that was totally it). Sorry Patrick - it's just not my scene, Dude.

It was cold. I knew it was going to be cold, and yet it's been so long since I've been anything but too hot that I couldn't persuade myself to wear or bring anything heavy or fleece-like. By the time we left, I didn't have the manual dexterity to get my chair back into its bag. I almost couldn't pay for my kettle corn - quarters everywhere! Pam promised not to tell my Mom I was too stubborn to bring a jacket.

I went to the folk festival every year for a while, back before I had both kids - I think the last time I went I was pregnant with Eve. Then we started renting a cottage with my sister, and it was always that week-end, then other stuff happened, and I haven't been for a while. It was lovely to be back, sitting in my chair under the stars, the air crackling with the chill of fall and ringing with exuberant harmony. And faintly fogged with pot.


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StephLove said…
Our little town's folk festival was this weekend, too. We almost always go. When one group asked members of the audience to come on stage with their ukuleles (and enough people had one to make me think it's some kind of tradition for this duo) I wished I had the two-year-old version of my son with me because he did love his ukulele. Wouldn't leave the house without it. Really. But the eleven-year-old version was sweet, too. He leaned against me and laughed at the funny parts of the songs. A singer we heard was behind me in line at the Ben and Jerry's truck and when I heard him complain his set had not gone well, I was able to cheer him up by telling him my son bought his CD with 2.5 weeks allowance.
Denise Nielsen said…
I used to go every year to the Lunenberg Folk Fest in Nova SCotia, and the Celtic Folk Fest in Halifax, but now haven't been to one in forever which makes me sad but also delighted to read this post and be reminded of my folk fest days. And hey, maybe next year I could take my blanket and join in the fun in Ottawa.
Nicole said…
I'm still laughing about the fashion part. Do they look normal at Folk Fest and whacky everywhere else? Probably, yes.
Pam said…
That was amazing. I'm so glad you spontaneously included me and I look forward to festing with the folksy folk again. Very cool (both literally and figuratively)
Wrath Of Mom said…
As a reformed fokie, I can attest to wearing asymmetrical fringed garments (AND HATS) more often than non-whacky, non-folkie people.

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