Heading out to the Calgary Folk Music Festival? Here are five things to watch for
Overwhelmed by the number, variety and occasional unpronounceable names of acts playing this year’s Calgary Folk Music Festival? We’re here to help.
Dozens of performers from around the world will descend on Prince’s Island Park, offering an intriguing mashup of genres, tones and experience.
Here are five things to look out for at the Calgary Folk Music Festival.
Mainstage and headliners
The folk-fest folks have never shied away from offering acquired-taste options on its mainstage (The 2016 lineup included Cat Power, Bonnie Prince Billy, James “Blood” Ulmer). But this year’s mainstage choices appear to align with more mainstream tastes.
On Friday, Dallas Green will be headlining as City and Colour, the melodic and increasingly soulful solo project from the one-time co-screamer of highly caffeinated post-hardcore act Alexisonfire.
The weekend will see the return of two Can-Rock stalwarts: the Barenaked Ladies on Saturday and Blue Rodeo on Sunday. Other highlights of the mainstage will include Quebec indie-popster Coeur de Pirate, Ontario folk-popster Basia Bulat, iconic Americana singer-songwriter Dave Alvin and his brother Phil, and Irish alt-folk singer-songwriter Foy Vance.
Folks? That’s not all.
While the Barenaked Ladies and Blue Rodeo may be a few years removed from edgy, the folk fest never fails to line up a sampling of artists sure to annoy folk purists and confuse the gently swaying baby boomers in the audience. This year, that includes the wonderfully named Holy F*ck, Toronto’s intensely noisy industrial-electro act and BadBadNotGood, also from Toronto, who offer a provocative blend of jazz prowess and passion for hip-hop.
Offering the sounds from different cultures is another cherished hallmark of the Calgary Folk Music Festival and this year is no exception. For one, there’s a good deal of Indigenous music from Canada. That includes Polaris Prize winning Inuk throat singer Tanya Tagaq, Mohawk electronic-music performer DJ Shub, singer-songwriter William Prince and Edmonton’s nehiyawak, whose music is steeped in the musicians’ Cree heritage.
Those looking to globe-trot a little farther afield can look to Colombia’s Sidestepper, the North African sounds of FARIS and Haitian roots music of Chouk Bwa Libete. Make sure to keep an eye out for workshops during the day. Some of the best music on Prince’s Island is the result of cultures playfully clashing on side stages in extended instrumental excursions.
Closer to Home
If your tastes run to more regional fare, the folk fest will also present a healthy sampling of the eclectic music scene in Calgary and surrounding area. This year that includes pop-electronica duo AM Static, the genre-jumping Sargeant & Comrad and ever-morphing Metis act Ghostkeeper, whose latest record Sheer Blouse Buffalo Knocks is an early contender for one of the year’s best.
Scene veterans Forbidden Dimension and 100 Mile House will be featured alongside relative newcomers such as British expat Benjamin Longman and Lindi Ortega, the popular Toronto-born country singer who recently moved here from Nashville.
The Calgary Folk Music Festival runs from Thursday to Sunday at Prince’s Island Park. Visit calgaryfolkfest.com.