Calgary Folk Music Festival day three in review

Posted by Nathan Atkninov, FastForward Weekly on 27 July 2014

“Follow the stars.” This isn’t spiritual advice given to me by one of the side-stage dancers, this is practical advice given to me by my friend Nick. In order to know which workshop to attend throughout the day Saturday, his approach was to check the festival schedule on his phone, and go to whichever stage had gotten the most stars. That worked out pretty well, as it led us to a jam session between David Bridie, The Lone Bellow and Typhoon, which turned out to be one of the best of the day. Typhoon is the type of band that should be in every workshop — big horn section, and absolutely no hesitation to jump into other people’s songs. It left us all talking about whether they’d ever record an album with The Lone Bellow. 

The next few hours were dedicated to nephew duty. We made a kite out of yarn and what looked to be ripped out pages from a magazine. Budget cuts, I suppose. Either way we flew (dragged) the kite down to stage 6 to catch Art Bergmann, Mary Gautheir, the Waco Brothers and Jason Isbell. Unfortunately, Isbell was stuck trying to get across the border (his main stage set time would be pushed back and hour and a half), but there was still a heck of a lot of talent on stage. My nephew describes the Waco Brothers as “too loud.” 

Despite the hour and a half delay, the highlight of this evening was no doubt Jason Isbell. He injected a much-needed dose of youth and rock 'n' roll into the evenings proceedings, and yet his songs are the kinds of old-school country jams that everyone could appreciate. It was a short set, but one of the weekend’s absolute highlights. Between Isbell, The Jayhawks, the Waco Brothers, Doug Paisley and a few others, this is turning into a year that’ll be defined in my mind by alt-country. And I’m not going to complain about that.