Tag Archive: Vancouver Folk Fest


As I mentioned in the previous post, I travelled back to Victoria on the night of Day 2 of the Vancouver Folk Fest as my band had a show. The show went swimmingly, and I was on the 8am ferry back to Vancouver to catch the last day of Folk Fest action. The weather was similar to the day before, but the rain mostly held off and we were just left having to deal with being a little damp and a little cold. I was afraid that my festival experience had peaked on Day 1, what with the great Joel Plaskett set to kick it all off and with Day 2 being only so-so for me. Boy was I wrong.

Imaginary Cities

After a car ride, a ferry, a bus broken down on the highway (yes, the bus I happened to be on), a SkyTrain, dropping my bag off at a friend’s place, and one more bus, I made it to the festival grounds once again.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d0H1lG8DBZI]

I started the day off with the All Fired Up workshop which featured the Burning Hell, Danny Michel, the Jason Wilson Band, and Imaginary Cities. This workshop might have been the best thing I saw all weekend; there were so many highlights in this short time. First off (in case I haven’t raved about them enough already), let’s talk about Imaginary Cities. I think they might take the crown for the best group I’ve discovered this year. The full band was here for this workshop, and they were joined by the other musicians on stage for most of their songs. The best for sure was their great, great cover of Cake’s song “Mexico”. The addition of the beautiful strings and baritone sax to Marti’s voice just pushed this version over the top for me. Luckily, I caught most of the song on video so you can hear it for yourself. This set was a great example of what a workshop should be like: you get the musicians from the other groups to join you and make a new version of what you’d normally play.

The Burning Hell

The Burning Hell is a band that I’ve been wanting to see for a long time, and they did not disappoint. The band has somewhat of a ragtag instrumentation with guitar, ukulele, strings, baritone sax, clarinet, bass, and drums. Most of their songs contain a bit of humour to them, and the song from the workshop that I have here, “Pirates”, is no exception. I hope this Peterborough-born, St. John’s-based band makes their way out west again soon.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wh864OUM2Pk]

Besides being known as a great guitar player, Danny Michel has gained notoriety as a lover of the environment. His song “Feather, Fur, and Fin” is a prime example of this. The workshop group had a lot of fun with this song, with Danny challenging the other musicians to make animal sounds on their instruments. Danny closed out the workshop with a Los Lobos cover where he got the whole audience to sing the band out. With no defined ending to the song, the large crowd just kept on going long after all the musicians had left the stage. If you go to Danny Michel’s Facebook page and dig back a bit, he has a video of this moment posted.

Danny Michel

Next up, my group decided to pay the beer gardens a visit. Here we were able to catch the From Sudan to East Van Workshop with Emmanuel Jal, the Fugitives, and C.R. Avery. In all honesty I didn’t pay too much attention to this set, but I do remember that the Fugitives and C.R. Avery joined forces on one song that had the crowd up and dancing like mad.

After spending enough time drinking we decided to procure some food stuffs from the amazing food court. I’ve been to my share of festivals and, hands down, the Vancouver Folk Fest wins for having the best selection of eats. Usually you’re stuck deciding between the lesser of the evils with burgers, fries, pizza, and hot dogs. Here it was crepes, dim sum, fresh roasted corn, tacos, Mediterranean BBQ, flatbread, Thai food, Indian food, and African delicacies. It was awesome to eat festival food and not feel gross afterwards.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jMgOXGZYmrU]

Our bellies full, we headed over to Stage 3 in anticipation of the Kathryn Calder set. We were treated to a workshop that wasn’t listed in the programs that featured Elliott Brood and Pokey Lafarge & the South City Three. Having missed Elliott Brood’s concert set the night before as well as their early morning workshop, I was glad that I got the chance to see the group play. Back in July the band was prepping for the release of their new album (which was released on September 27th, 2011) and they played the old stand by favourites as well as a few new tracks. Rest assured there was lots of hand clapping and “hey! hey! hey!”s. Apologies for the crummy sound quality on the Elliott Brood video there – I was sitting right next to the speakers and I ended up muting the mic on my camera a bit too much to compensate. Pokey Lafarge & the South City Three was a great surprise. Maybe I was turned off by the somewhat hokey name, but the group was a lot of fun. Pokey Lafarge has the role of front man mastered and the band was tight. Plus, they had a guy that played the washboard – folk festival experience complete!

Pokey Lafarge & The South City Three

Up next on Stage 3 was the Kathryn Calder concert set. For some reason, she doesn’t play in Victoria too often, so this was actually the first time I had the chance to see her play her solo work. I was glad to finally see her perform. I may ruin some friendships for what I’m about to say next, but: I never really fell in love with Kathryn Calder’s solo work. I was a big fan of Immaculate Machine, and so many of my friends (boys, mostly) rave about her album Are You My Mother?, but I for some reason still haven’t given the album a good listen. Her set at the Vancouver Folk Festival was great though and I was totally won over by the fact that members of Meatdraw were in her backing band. I promise I’ll listen to Are You My Mother? a few times before I see her again (which just so happens to be on November 26th at Lucky Bar in Victoria).

Kathryn Calder

The last set I saw at the festival was the Jim Bryson and the Weakerthans Band concert. I saw Jim and the Weakerthans play in Victoria back in February. The attendance at that concert was not the greatest, and I was glad to see so many people turn up for their set at the Folk Fest. Unfortunately, I thought the Folk Fest crowd was horrible. First, maybe some background information will be useful to set the scene. Back in October 2010 Jim Bryson released an excellent album called The Falcon Lake Incident. His backing band on this album was the Weakerthans (minus John K. Samson). The performance at the Folk Fest was advertised as Jim Bryson and the Weakertans Band playing songs off of The Falcon Lake Incident as well as some older Jim Bryson tracks. Having a full rock and roll band backing him up meant that the songs from The Falcon Lake Incident were maybe a bit more upbeat than Jim’s back catalogue, and so I don’t think the crowd knew quite what to expect. There was a group of people standing up at the front of the crowd (who may or may not have been myself and my friends) who right as the band came on stage got yelled at by the crowd behind them to sit down. Normally I’m one to complain about an audience being too rowdy, but this was the exact opposite extreme of that. Here was a group pulling some rock star moves on stage and everyone was perfectly happy to nap on the lawn. No one wanted to get up and dance. Imagine that – no dancers at a folk festival!! The second strike the crowd earned against them was when between songs some guy at the back yelled out “Play “Tournament Of Hearts!””. (“Tournament Of Hearts” is a song by the Weakerthans – not Jim Bryson – from their latest album Reunion Tour.) Given the information I wrote about how this set was advertised, this was almost the equivalent of being the jerk who yells out “Freebird!” at a show. I was starting to get grumpy about people ruining the experience, but fortunately Jim asked everyone to get up for the last couple of songs (thank you!) and that changed everything. It ended up being a grand ol’ time. The Weakerthans have been playing together for more than ten years and it’s not much of an understatement to say that they’re at the top of their game right now. The band mixes well with Jim Bryson, and while I can see him going a different direction on his next album, I would not complain if we saw another collaboration between Jim Bryson and the Weakerthans. The set ended with each member slowly dropping out of the last song and walking off. It was an excellent way to end my 2011 Vancouver Folk Fest experience.

My photos of Day 3 at the Vancouver Folk Fest can be found here.

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Vancouver Folk Fest 2011 – Day 2

Day 2 was a short day at the Vancouver Folk Fest for me due to having a gig with my band Versa back in Victoria that night. My friends and I arrived at the festival grounds that day just in time to see the Grit and Wisdom workshop. This grouping included the crowd favourite Justin Townes Earle and, one of my favourites, Jim Bryson. The weather took a turn for the worse on the morning of Van Folk Fest Day 2 and we were greeted by a soggy crowd. Fortunately, the rain had stopped by the time we arrived and we were perfectly happy to sit on the damp grass using our makeshift plastic bag mats. (Incidentally, garbage bags are a great thing to bring to a rainy festival!)

Justin Townes Earle

After a nice relaxing acoustic workshop to start the day, we decided to hit the beer gardens. Unlike all too many of the large festivals, the gardens at the Vancouver Folk Fest came with a great view of the stage and prices were kept reasonable. From our camp in the drinking area we saw the Changes in Latitude workshop which featured Joel Plaskett, Elliott Brood, and the Fugitives. It was great to hang out at the tables while still having clear sound and sightlines to the musical action still going on.

Jim Bryson

I had time to see one last thing on Day 2 before I needed to catch the ferry home, so I left my friends to enjoy their malted and hopped beverages and I headed over to Stage 3. Here I saw Imaginary Cities play the last two songs in their concert set with the full band. The group sounded great and I was glad I’d get another chance to see them on Day 3.

Imaginary Cities

Unfortunately I missed the rest of the action for the day which included a workshop with Dustin Bentall, and the entire lineup on the Peak Stage that night (Danny Michel, The Burning Hell, Buck 65, and Elliott Brood). I was particularly choked about having to miss Buck 65 as I also didn’t get the chance to see his one other appearance at the festival, and it has been far too long since I’ve seen him perform. The word from my friends is that I missed out on a most excellent evening.

Imaginary Cities

My photos of Day 2 at the Vancouver Folk Fest can be found here.

Imaginary Cities

I arrived at Jericho Beach Park for the 2011 Vancouver Folk Fest at the tail end of Gillian Welch’s set. I wasn’t familiar with her Americana folk, but the large crowd already gathered at the Festival seemed to LOVE her. (Now that I’m home and reading a bit on Gillian Welch, I see that she had a hand in putting together the amazing soundtrack for the movie O Brother Where Art Thou – cool!)

MCs Lana Gay and Tariq Hussain

Next we were treated to a tweener set by Imaginary Cities. (For those unaware, a tweener is an act that plays between larger acts. They serve as the entertainment during gear changeovers. They are usually lesser known acts and are usually performed as stripped down sets with easy to set up acoustic instruments.) Though the band usually performs as a five piece, the songwriting duties in Imaginary Cities are shared by Rusty Matyas and Marti Sorbit. True to the tweener form, this set was just Marti and Rusty and an acoustic guitar. The duo played selections from their Polaris Long Listed self-titled album Imaginary Cities, and sneaked in a great cover of the song “Mexico” by Cake.

Joel Plaskett

Closing out the first night of the festival was Joel Plaskett. Ever-changing his lineup of backing musicians, this time the group was billed as the Joel Plaskett Emergency. I was excited for this, I hadn’t seen the Emergency configuration (which usually plays more of the rock songs in Joel’s massive catalog) in years. The Vancouver Folk Fest version of the Joel Plaskett Emergency was a trio: Joel on guitar with a bass and drums backing him. The group played a mixture of new and old songs, which was fitting given his recently released greatest hits and b-sides collection called Emergencys, False Alarms, Shipwrecks, Castaways, Fragile Creatures, Special Features, Demons and Demonstrations: 1999-2010. The highlight of the evening for me was the closing song “Extraordinary”. I have a great video of the performance from that night that looks amazing, but sounds horrible due to some off-key singing from the crowd ringing loud and clear over everything else. I’ll spare the internet from having to hear that, and you’ll just have to trust me on how great the song was. (OK fine, it was my off-key singing. Still, no one wants to hear that.)

Joel Plaskett

My photos of Day 1 at the Vancouver Folk Fest can be found here.

Even though I’m stuck most of my days at school, it seems that summer is officially in full swing. Some great festivals have already happened this season (such as Sasquatch, Victoria Ska Fest, and Summer Live in Vancouver), but before we get too late in the year I thought I would give a preview of some great upcoming events.

Vancouver Folk Music Festival

Location: Jericho Beach Park, Vancouver, BC

Dates: Friday July 15th – Sunday July 17th

Website: http://thefestival.bc.ca/

Info: This is the 34th year of the Vancouver Folk Fest. The grounds at Jericho Beach have got to be one of the prettiest places ever to have a music festival. I can’t think of anything better to do on a summer day than to look at ocean, mountains, and the city skyline while listening to some superb music. Though the name of this festival says “folk”, the lineup has “indie” written all over it this year – just take a look at my list of highlights below. I’ve had the pleasure of attending the Vancouver Folk Fest the past two years (check out my photos from last year’s festival here and here), and I’m looking forward to being able to cover the festival this weekend. Be sure to follow my tweets and check back here on EhBSeasides for the highlights. Ticket prices and daily schedules are posted on the festival’s website.

Who to catch: Dustin Bentall & Kendel Carson (they put on a great set at Summer Live in Vancouver last weekend!), Jim Bryson and the Weakerthans Band, Buck 65, the Burning Hell, Kathryn Calder, Elliott Brood, Imaginary Cities, Danny Michel, Joel Plaskett Emergency.

Kulth Music Festival

Location: Coombs (Vancouver Island), BC

Dates: Saturday July 16th – Sunday July 17th

Website: http://thekulth.ca/

Info: This is the first year for the Kulth Festival, and I for one am excited to have a new musical event on Vancouver Island (though next year the organizers should coordinate with the Vancouver Folk Fest so as not to book them on the same weekend!). I actually don’t know much about this festival, but with a lineup like they’ve got this year I’m thinking it can’t be that bad. Ticket prices and daily schedules are posted on the festival’s website.

Who To Catch: Stars, Ron Sexsmith, Aidan Knight, Memphis, Top Less Gay Love Teckno Party, Louise Burns, Current Swell.

Victoria Electronic Music Festival

Location: Centennial Square, Victoria, BC

Dates: Saturday July 30th – Sunday July 31st

Website: http://vemf.org/

Info: This is the 8th year for the Victoria Electronic Music Festival (VEMF). While I’m not up on my electronic music knowledge, I have to say that I really admire the model that this festival works on. VEMF operates as an all ages, non profit festival. In fact, up until this year it was absolutely free to take in the events at VEMF. (This year the price made the small jump up to $5 in order to cover the cost of security the city now requires of the festival.) If I stay in town for the BC Day long weekend, I hope to catch some of the VEMF events!

Who To Catch: I’m not even going to try pick anything here. Mostly because I have no idea where to start, but also because there’s no full line up posted yet.

Live At Squamish Festival

Location: Squamish, BC

Dates: Saturday August 20th – Sunday August 21st

Website: http://www.liveatsquamish.com/

Info: Live At Squamish is now in its second year and they’re looking to build on the success of last year’s festival by providing on site camping, booking some big headliners, and partnering with a major sponsor. I went to Live At Squamish last year and had a blast. (Check out my photos here and here.) One thing I especially loved about Live At Squamish was how the festival was big with a small festival feel. It was great to see some amazing acts like the Decemberists and Devo without being totally overwhelmed by swarms of people. The festival also does an awesome job of booking smaller local acts. (I am so excited to finally see the Zolas perform!) Ticket info can be found on the Live At Squamish website. EhBSeasides has secured a press spot for this year’s Live At Squamish festival, so be sure to follow my tweets and check back here for ongoing coverage.

Who To Catch: Metric, Bend Sinister, The Belle Game (they also put on a great set at Summer Live last weekend), Brasstronaut, Shad, Shane Koyczan, the Dudes, the Zolas, Black Mountain, Stars.

Rifflandia Festival

Location: Victoria, BC

Dates: Thursday September 22nd – Sunday September 25th

Website: http://2011.rifflandia.com/

Info: It’s year four for Rifflandia, and they just keep building with no signs of stopping. This year Rifflandia has secured the use of Royal Athletic Park and plans to host some big headliners at this large outdoor venue. Word has it that Royal Athletic Park has the capacity of the entire festival, so this means no more standing outside in the rain being disappointed that you can’t get into that full venue to see your favourite band. The first couple waves of performing artist announcements have been made, and so far it lives up to the expectations set by previous years’ line ups. (My photos of last year’s festival can be found here and here and here, with written coverage here and here and here.) I’m really excited to see the return of Rifflandia alumni like Hollerado, Mother Mother, and We Are The City, as well as some new faces like Karkwa and Suuns. I’m hoping that more local acts get announced in the coming weeks; discovering local bands like Forestry, the Wicks, Maurice, and Aidan Knight is definitely one of my favourite things about Rifflandia. My ticket for this year’s festival is already purchased, info on how to get yours is available on the Rifflandia website.

Who To Catch: City and Colour, Broken Social Scene, Mother Mother, Besnard Lakes, Hollerado, Matthew Barber, The Pack AD, Royal Wood, Braids, Jets Overhead, Karkwa, Library Voices, Malajube, The Racoons, Suuns, We Are The City, Mike Edel, Rococode.

New Photos on Flickr

EhBSeasides now has its own Flickr page! Feel free to peruse some of the photo sets posted so far:

  • Versa CD Release Party (includes photos of Versa and Les Monstres Terribles)
  • Malahat Revue in Duncan (includes photos of Jeremy Fisher, Said the Whale, Hannah Georgas, and Aidan Knight)
  • Vancouver Folk Fest 2010 Day 2 (includes photos of Matt Epp, Bahamas, Shane Koyczan and Short Story Long, Timber Timbre, the Deep Dark Woods, and the United Steelworkers of Montreal)
  • Vancouver Folk Fest 2010 Day 3 (includes photos of the Deep Dark Woods, the United Steelworkers of Montreal, Timber Timbre, the Gertrudes, Matt Epp, Colin Hay, and the Malahat Revue)

Enjoy!