Edmonton Sun - 2003-07-25 Calgary Shows How It's Done By Fish Grikowsky

Posted by on 10 May 2004

And how will the people of Calgary remember the 24th annual Calgary Folk Music Festival, which wrapped up Sunday evening?

CALGARY - The primitive idea of some sort of metaphorical arms race between Edmonton and Calgary traces its roots back to territorial disputes at the founding of this province, a real testimony to how long xenophobia and dumb boosterism can thrive. Each of us is, after all, a citizen of Alberta, Canada and the planet, if you really get down to it.

However, I can't help gushing about the Calgary folk fest, which at last night kicked off with Ricky Skaggs, Elvis Costello, and which over the next few days hosts Jane Siberry, Alpha Yaya Diallo, Michelle Shocked, Daniel Lanois, Kathleen Edwards, Ani DiFranco, Blue Rodeo, Sarah Harmer and Ian Tyson - as the killer finale Sunday night. Also, this speaks nothing of the wonderful site at Prince's Island Park, floating like a Timbit in the Bow River, the rocky, duck-filled shore of which you're welcome to visit if you feel the need to escape the tree-shaded midway.

Calgary's festival, which is nearly sold out, is a smaller affair. And that's exactly what's so great about it. There with Old Reliable tomorrow and Sunday, Shuyler Jansen agrees. " I like the layout there better than any other folk fest I've seen" says the singer, just back from playing the Dawson City Music Festival. "There's lots of shade, you can sit by the river and the after-parties are awesome, too." Edmonton's hard-to-get-into post fest bashes, it should be mentioned, are wild and pretty tough to top. But Shuyler and I both marvel at how, for what it is, Edmonton's folk fest in general is comparatively overhyped, while Calgary's is seriously underappreciated.

"I think it's the whole Calgary thing" says Jansen. "The Calgary music scene has been buried...by something. Going down there (a decade back) when I was in the Naked & the Dead there was totally a music scene, similar to the way there's been a great in Edmonton for 15 years. But, for Old Reliable at least, we haven't felt like we've met a music scene in the 20 or so times we've played down there. Maybe it reflects that it's not as much of an arts town. Its a business town." Well, whatever works. Their fest is the best one running in that city. A few hours on the road and a hotel room downtown with friends at the Ramada add to the sense of event. Head to calgaryfolkfest.com for more details. Daily tickets are $45 at the gate, and leave your belly open enough for some delicious chick-pea curry. Who knows - you might even run into Lanny McDonald!