Folk fest a Great Big Sea of Fun
Review, Heath McCoy, Saturday July 24, The Calgary Herald
<>Those squeals of party-hearty glee. The clapping. The dancing. The singalongs. Princes Island Park erupted into a 9,000-strong kitchen party Friday evening, courtesy of Newfoundlands Great Big Sea.<>
The band was its usual bomb-blast of energetic, radio friendly pop meets traditional Maritime music. Theres no denying the infectious vibes of the Great Big Seas live show. They did get a big kick-start however.
Prior to the Great Big Seas appearance, the Calgary Folk music
Festival received a welcome shock to the system; a full-on shot of rock
n roll straight to the main vein.
That came from the North Mississippi Allstars, a band that most certainly doesnt hit like a folkie. The hard rock trio came on with a blues-thunder stomp reminiscent of Led Zeppelin. Guitarist Luther Dickinson, cooked up a southern-fried boogie that recalled the Allmann Brothers.
Those who grooved to the Allstars grooved hard. It showed
again, you dont have to be a folkie to take in the Calgary Folk
Hippies. Granolas. Activists. Judy (gag) Collins
fans. Oh, youll find them this weekend at the park, but you
dont have to be in their club to enjoy the annual event. North
Mississippi Allstars. Michael Franti, the hip-hop rooted soul man
whos set to headline today (Saturday). This is not your daddys
To me theres folk by style, like old-style acoustic music, and
folk by soul, says Les Siemieniuk, general manager of the Calgary folk
fest. Michael Franti is a politically conscious artist.
Hes a folk singer at heart. Hes folk by soul. And if
Peter Seeger was 18 today, the last thing hed be playing is banjo,
Rest assured, old school folk fans who prefer the kinder, gentler side of the sonic fence, had plenty to appreciate Friday. Like Texas mama Ruthie Foster who served up an engagingly soulful, gospel-infused set of sweet acoustic blues.
Caitlin Cary, a former member of acclaimed Whiskeytown (where she
played serene foil to the talented but troubled folk-rocker Ryan Adams,
the poor girl) offered up a heavy, often depressed helping of
heartbreaking country ballads. The strength of Carys songwriting
was never in question. Certainly not during the gorgeous,
decidedly Patsy Cline-ish Please Break My Heart.
Mississippi-born Olu Dara, father of hip-hop star Nas, picked up the
tempo with a groovy, danceable, hodge-podge of rootsy styles.
Daras graceful trumpet lines were cool and jazzy. His
rhythmically dynamic band was funky. The jelly roll riffing of
his vocals were bluesy pure. Dara would touch down on the
earthiness of country at one moment, and the next he and his band would
be tripping off on jazz odysseys that bordered on psychedelic.
Fine, fine stuff.
The real deal begins today when the concert site turns into a veritable village and the side stages become platforms where the musicals stars of the festival can hook up and jam. You think you had fun on Friday?
You aint seen nothing yet, folks.