Folk Tales

Posted by on 1 August 2006

Theresa Tayler, Calgary Herald, Tuesday, July 25, 2006

 

Homegrown talent adds lustre to music festival

 

Just a year ago, he was a spectator in a sea of music fans, catching the sights and sounds of the Calgary Folk Music Festival like 10,000 others.

 

This year, Jay Crocker will be head- lining the festival's Saturday night Twilight Stage and playing a variety of side stages during the four days of the festival.

What a difference a year makes. Shortly after last year's folk festival, Crocker recorded his first solo project, an afro-jazz-inspired indie release, backed by a 10-piece band. The album met with enough success that he earned a spot on the festival roster.

"It's going to be great, we (Crocker and his band, The Electric Apes) are paired up in the workshops with some crazy intense musicians."

 

While headlining acts such as Kris Kristofferson, Ani DiFranco and Macy Gray attract much of the attention, Crocker, along with nearly a dozen other Alberta artists, are the core of the summer music celebration, says Kerry Clarke, associate producer of the yearly event.

 

"We rely on our local talent quite heavily," Clarke says.

"We're picking artists to play that have arrived -- people that would have been chosen to play here whether they were local or not. We don't lower the bar for our Calgary artists."

 

Calgary musicians perform throughout the festival and populate workshops throughout the weekend, giving them a chance to play with some accomplished musicians they might otherwise be unable to collaborate with. It's a treat for the musicians and fans.

"We're bringing these people in because they're great artists and they need to be heard," she says. "Calgary musicians are way beyond the country music stereotypes that people usually associate with us. We're trying to show people something different."

 

ttayler@theherald.canwest.com

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We checked in with some Calgary musicians prior to their folk festival appearances. Here's what they had to say:

 

Jay Crocker

Funk and jazz fuser, built around improvisation

What's your most memorable folk festival moment or experience?

Seeing Bill Frisell. That had a big influence on me musically as far as realizing the possible potential of how to make a small group sound really big.

Which workshops are you participating in? What part are you most looking forward to?

I'm doing one with Mark Rubin and his Ridgetop Syncopators. And there's another with Doug Wimbish and The Sugarhill Gang.

Who are you most looking forward to seeing perform?

Son Volt. They have a lot of history and they're really versed in the tone.

Folk song you wish you'd written?

The Night Patty Murphy Died, because then I'd have a lot of money.

Who is your favourite folk artist?

Axl Rose of Guns N' Roses

Favourite folk fest food?

Anything Indian.

Blanket or mini-chair?

Mini-chair.

Dylan or Donovan?

Dylan.

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Tim Hus

Old-school Alberta country crooner

What's your most memorable folk festival moment or experience?

Corb Lund, Stompin' Tom and Taj Mahal performances. Corb is a friend, Taj Mahal picked me up when I was hitchhiking, and I've worn out several pairs of boots stompin' along to Tom.

Which workshops are you participating in? What part are you most looking forward to?

I am participating in one with Robbie Fulks, Elliot Brood and Tom Phillips.

Who are you most looking forward to seeing perform?

Kris Kristofferson. I have been a fan for a long time.

Folk song you wish you'd written?

Hard Travelin' by Woody Guthrie.

Who is your favourite folk artist?

Ramblin' Jack Elliott.

Favourite folk fest food?

Something Mexican

Blanket or mini-chair?

I've never owned a mini- chair. I own blankets.

Dylan or Donovan?

Freewheelin' Dylan.

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Ellen McIlwaine

Alberta's guitar goddess, fusing blues and world music

What's your most memorable folk festival moment or experience?

The first time I played the Winnipeg Folk Festival, it rained. I looked out into the crowd and everyone was holding tarps and jumping around in boots in the mud. It was packed.

Which workshops are you participating in? What part are you most looking forward to?

The ones I'm doing with VM and Salil Bhatt.

Who are you most looking forward to seeing perform?

Niyaz. I think it may be similar to what we do.

Folk song you wish you'd written?

Nothing.

Who is your favourite folk artist?

Odetta. If you've ever heard her, you don't have to ask why.

Favourite folk fest food?

Anything is probably going to be great.

Blanket or mini-chair?

I will probably bring my walker and sit on that.

Dylan or Donovan?

Dylan.

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Jane Hawley

Part of Hank Williams-inspired band Sorrow Bound

What's your most memorable folk festival moment or experience?

Basically the location is the best part. Going to the festival, playing and seeing the water going by and knowing that people are really enjoying the location, trees and geese -- it's relaxing.

Which workshops are you participating in? What part are you most looking forward to?

Not performing in a workshop this year

Who are you most looking forward to seeing perform?

Dave Alvin, I just love his music. He's a great performer.

Folk song you wish you'd written?

I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry, Hank Williams.

Who is your favourite folk artist?

Emmylou Harris.

Favourite folk fest food?

Depends on the festival, when there's mini doughnuts, those! And those juice smoothies are pretty good too.

Blanket or mini-chair?

Blanket for sure.

Dylan or Donovan?

Bob Dylan.

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Tim Williams

Part of Hank Williams-inspired band Sorrow Bound

What's your most memorable folk festival moment or experience?

Seeing Los Lobos play a great mainstage set under a giant full moon.

Which workshops are you participating in? What part are you most looking forward to?

I'm not doing any workshops this year.

Who are you most looking forward to seeing perform?

Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, Macy Gray, and Bedouin Soundclash.

Folk song you wish you'd written?

Do Re Mi by Woody Guthrie.

Who is your favourite folk artist?

Leadbelly and Lydia Mendoza.

Favourite folk fest food?

I don't usually eat there.

Blanket or mini-chair?

Standing at the edge of the crowd

Dylan or Donovan?

Positively, Bob Dylan

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Lorrie Matheson

Calgary country-rock singer-songwriter

What's your most memorable folk festival moment or experience?

The workshop I hosted in '99 with Gordon Gano from the Violent Femmes, Exene Cervenka from X, and Freakwater. Freakwater played a gospel tune, Gordon Gano played one as well. Exene didn't like the gospel thing, and her tantrum was pretty funny to watch.

Which workshops are you participating in? What part are you most looking forward to?

I'm a fan of Dan Bern, so that will be fun, I've never seen the Great Lake Swimmers, but their records are cool, so I'm looking forward to that. The biggest thrill will be the one with Jim Bryson from Ottawa.

Who are you most looking forward to seeing perform?

The Ridgetop Syncopators, because anything of Mark Rubin's in is gonna be killer. And Little Axe.

Folk song you wish you'd written?

Kiss Me Deadly, by Generation X.

Who is your favourite folk artist?

In my opinion, anyone who writes a song is a folk artist, and I don't have one favourite songwriter. So, nobody.

Favourite folk fest food?

Free.

Blanket or mini-chair?

Neither. Being on the move is way better than sitting still.

Dylan or Donovan?

I'll use my friend Joel Stewart's line for this one: "If Donovan was playing in my backyard, I'd close the drapes."

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Rachelle Van Zanten

Slide blues player, and former member of Painting Daisies

What's your most memorable folk festival moment or experience?

I've never been to the Calgary Folk Festival, I always been on the road gigging somewhere else at that time.

Which workshops are you participating in? What part are you most looking forward to?

I am mostly looking forward to the Champagne & Grits workshop with Little Axe, Ellen McIlwaine and Ndidi Onukwulu. The combination should make for a really good show.

Who are you most looking forward to seeing perform?

I'm most looking forward to seeing Feist. I have the new album and I think she's brilliant.

Folk song you wish you'd written?

Fat Bottomed Girls by Queen. And Angel From Montgomery by John Prine.

Who is your favourite folk artist?

John Prine.

Favourite folk fest food?

Definitely the curry.

Blanket or mini-chair?

I'm more of a stander.

Dylan or Donovan?

Bob Dylan.

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Tom Phillips

Part of Hank Williams-inspired band Sorrow Bound

What's your most memorable folk festival moment or experience?

I would say playing Gillian Welch and Alejandro Escovedo.

Which workshops are you participating in? What part are you most looking forward to?

My workshop with Robbie Fulks -- he's one of my favourite country-folk songwriters.

Who are you most looking forward to seeing perform?

Robbie Fulks for the same reasons.

Folk song you wish you'd written?

Sunday Morning Coming Down by Kris Kristofferson.

Who is your favourite folk artist?

Bob Dylan.

Favourite folk fest food?

Beer.

Blanket or mini-chair?

Blanket.

Dylan or Donovan?

Dylan.