Last-minute rush looms again at Calgary Folk Festival: Tardy fans risk missing impressive performers

Posted by on 1 September 2004

Edmonton Journal- Wednesday, July 21, 2004 - By Peter North

Last year at this time hundreds of roots music lovers found themselves on the outside looking in through the chain-link fences that border Prince's Island Park during the Calgary Folk Festival.

A mid-week rush for tickets and weekend passes may have put the four-day event comfortably in the black, but there was no denying the weekend sellout took a lot of unintentionally tardy fans by surprise.

With a lineup that has been receiving even more positive attention than that of 2003, one would think that lessons would be learned. That's not necessarily so, according to festival associate producer Kerry Clarke.

"Sales are a bit stronger at this point compared to last year when we sold out the Saturday and Sunday. We're definitely close to break-even," says the talent buyer who has spent the last 11 years inking talent for the event.

One that, like so many other festivals in the province, is celebrating its 25th anniversary. But Clarke has reason to wonder why there could once again be a last-minute rush, when the lineup points to an abundance of riches. With Taj Mahal, Ruthie Foster, Rhonda Vincent, Earl Scruggs, Olu Dara, North Mississippi All-Stars, Lucinda Willians, Michael Franti, Youssou N'Dour and Stompin' Tom Connors on the headliners list, this edition of the Calgary Folk Festival should be one for the books.

"It's interesting how booking headliners goes in waves. We've struggled inthe past and sometimes it hinges on the U.S. dollar. This year though, the planets have been aligned," is the assessment of someone who should know.

"We've been trying to get Stompin' Tom for years and we're thrilled he's closing Saturday night. Personally I'm really exicted about seeing Thea Gilmore and I'm pleased that we've instituted a spoken word program," added Clarke, who last year hit home runs by booking Buck 65 and T Model Ford.

One artist on the Calgary bill is Caitlin Cary, who made her first appearance in the province at the Edmonton Folk Festival in 2003. While last year found her touring both North America and Europe in a non-stop fashion, the summer of 2004 finds the founding member of Whiskeytown working as a weekend warrior.

"I thought the Edmonton Folk Festival was an amazing experience and figure Calgary should be similar. The community support made it run better than anything I've ever been to," says Cary, who has been splitting her performance time between solo shows and those that find her singing as a member of Tres Chicas, a group of sublime harmonizers who have just released their debut disc, Sweetwater. Her partners in the trio are Glory Fountain's Lynn Blakey and Tonya Lamm

from the group Hazeldine. The emotion of their collective performances matches the heavenly vocal blend that envelopes tunes like Lucinda Williams' Am I Too Blue or the George Jones gem Take The Devil Out of Me.

"It's been good for me to have so many different outlets. I guess I needed all of this after Whiskeytown; it's wonderful to have control over what I do," stated the singer/violinist who has no regrets about her time spent in the popular alt-country group that was fronted by Ryan Adams.

"Ryan and I aren't in constant communication, but we're friendly. There was a notice about a Whiskeytown reunion on a message board the other day, but I don't know anything about it. It's up to somebody else to put that one together," concluded Cary with a laugh.

Caitlin Cary plays mainstage at the Calgary Folk Festival on Friday evening and a number of workshops over the weekend.