AUX does Calgary Folk Music Festival: Hayden, Bahamas, workshops were highlights on day two
While the Calgary Folk Music Festival got off to a solid start—we really loved M. Ward’s performance on Thursday—it felt like Friday’s festivities really got the fun started. Indeed, it felt like half of Calgary took the day off work, with tarp-wielding fest-goers lining up outside the venue early in the a.m., readying for a schedule that’d feature the fest’s signature workshops, Hayden, and Thievery Corporation. We were on hand to soak it all in—and here were our favourite moments.
Hayden is still as charming as ever. Our love for Hayden’s Us Alone, Hayden’s 2013 return-to-form LP, is well-documented. He’s the musical equivalent to your grandmother’s worn-in Hudson’s Bay blanket—comfortable, familiar, warm, and forever fashionable. Live, he showed why: His whisper-mumbled folk lulled tarpies into a trance as he mixed in old faves—“Bad As They Seem,” “The Hazards of Sitting Beneath Palm Trees,” and “Trees Lounge” all made appearances, backed by a full band—with new standards. During his set, we almost fell asleep in a sun-baked stupor—except for AUX contrib Josiah Hughes, who was busy Gangnam Style dancing to some mope-core—but for Hayden, we mean it as a compliment.
Our fave workshop? Bahamas with Hayes Carll. The CFMF’s workshops pair disparate artists together for a jam sessions, and the results can vary—often, they’re magical, but other times, they’re unmitigated disaster. But Bahamas, Hayes Carll, and Heartless Bastards worked—they kept their collaborations tasteful, as each took turns leading the stage. Bahamas and Carll kept their contributions mostly acoustic, but the Bastards’ amped-up approach to country tinged garage kept the crowd on their toes.
One thing we learned about CFMF: It’s not only about the music. With a dedicated record tent, food trucks galore, and a beer garden well-stocked with Big Rock brews, we spent just as much time soaking in the sights as watching music. The ram-packed beer garden, in particular, had a lineup that seemed to stretch for blocks, leading us to one fest truism: Yes, it’s about the music, the folk fest is also a place where the entire city—from its musical community to young families—comes to play.
There’s nothing more charming than a thick Scottish accent—so yes, we dug Alasdair Roberts. The Drag City-signed, Will Oldham-produced troubadour played to a sparse crowd tucked away on the recesses of the folk fest’s grounds, but those attending received a mid-day treat at the hands of Roberts. The well-loved Scottish troubadour—who actually had a Glaswegian contingent cheering him on—played a set of honey-dipped British Isle ballads, occasionally punctuated by jig-worthy Celtic passages.
Bahamas sounded massive. Shortly after his workshop with Hayes Carll and Heartless Bastards, Bahamas’ braintrust made his way to the mainstage—and much to our surprise, he downright delighted the tarpies. Being Feist’s ex-guitarist, we expected his set to be focused on his acoustic theatrics—but were we ever wrong. Backed by a full cohort of soul singers, he breathed new life in Pink Stat and Barchords, delivering an energized set that’d prove to the anthesis of Hayden’s. The only blunder? Covering Outkast’s “Hey Ya.”
Snacks on snacks. Can we mention that we ate a red velvet ice cream sandwich? Yeah, that happened.