Our roots writers choose their must-see folk-fest side-stage essentials

Posted by on 30 July 2004

FFWD Weekly July 22, 2004 - Preview Article by FFWD Staff


MARY-LYNN McEWEN’S PICKS


· Gonna Shine Up My Boots

Steve Earle

Corb Lund

Caitlin Cary

Sunday, 4:30 p.m.

Sunterra Stage 5


A bad boy with a golden heart, a good boy with a sunny-side-up streak of cowboy, and a born-again Southerner experienced in using her exquisite voice to airbrush the bruises outta good-bad boys’ music so she can punch up some bruised songs of her own. All three of them up close and personal? Am I dreaming?


· United Kingdom?

Andy White

Dick Gaughan

Thea Gilmore

Martyn Joseph

Saturday, 10:30 a.m.

Ship and Anchor Stage 1


Festival associate producer Kerry Clarke is telling all who ask about her must-see pick for this year, Londoner Thea Gilmore. Clarke’s hooked on Gilmore’s lines like "There’s a rumour/Dirty as a chimney stack/Quiet as roadkill" and on the young singer’s musical brio. Team her up with the touching, dry-witted and politically astute songs of the other three writers, and everyone will be hitting the same target – just with different weapons.


· Odd Ball, Corner Pocket

Chuck Brodsky

Paul Kelly

Rae Spoon

Andy White

Sunday, 2:30 p.m.

Burlington Resources Stage 2


An American, an Aussie, a Canadian and an Irish-born Aussie transplant mirror the blending of different place, gender and style. The commonality is songwriting that is a strainer for souls poured from the blender of life.


MARTIN KEMP’S PICKS

· United Kingdom?

Andy White

Dick Gaughan

Thea Gilmore

Martyn Joseph

Saturday, 10:30 a.m.

Ship & Anchor Stage 1


Odds are good that Maggie Thatcher won’t be showing up for this one. Or Tony Blair for that matter. But four amazing songwriters will be there, including Thea Gilmore, who is currently burning up the folk charts (if there is such a thing) with her latest release Avalanche. While being from the Commonwealth might unite them, expect four different styles coming together on one stage.


· Regime Change Begins at Home

Michael Franti

Saul Williams

D'Bi Young

Dick Gaughan

Saturday, 4:10 p.m.

Bass Brothers Stage 4


Folk music wouldn’t be folk music without songs of political responsibility and social justice. All of these musicians are well versed in the concepts, including Michael Franti, one of the most enthusiastic and intense side-stage participants I’ve ever witnessed. With the artists coming from different spots on the globe – from Canada to Scotland to the U.S. – the common denominator here will be the critical eye and thoughtful voice.


· Lord Have Mercy!

Linda Tillery and the Cultural Heritage Choir

Ruthie Foster

Martyn Joseph

Rhonda Vincent & the Rage

Sunday, 10:30 a.m.

Bass Brothers. Stage 4


Gospel-influenced sessions are always one of the hits of the festival, especially when they involve Linda Tillery and the Cultural Heritage Choir, who tend to whip the crowd (as well as the other musicians on stage) into a testifyin’ frenzy. Come for the music, stay for the salvation.


· Absolution.com

Weakerthans

Veda Hille

Scott Merritt

Thea Gilmore

Sunday, 3:20 p.m.

Bass Brothers. Stage 4


This is an actual website, but it has nothing to do with actually being absolved of anything. Or music, for that matter. This session, however, is sure to feature a myriad of stories to freshen the soul, from some of the festival’s hip kids.


SHEREEN TUOMI’S PICKS


This job ain’t getting no easier as the years go on. Every year there’s far too much good music to pare it down to a simple three favourites. There are a dozen great concerts to see, but you’ll have to find them for yourself. I also can’t just pick one of the sessions including Michael Franti, because they’re all going to kick ass. See at least one of them.


· Voice Squad

Linda Tillery and the Cultural Heritage Choir

Fiamma Fumana

Rani Arbo

Daisy Mayhem

Saturday, 3:40 p.m.

Ship and Anchor Stage 1


This is my out-on-a-limb pick. I can’t quite imagine how Italian-folk-meets-electronica, and classical-violin-meets-lounge-music-in-Appalachia and glory-hallelujah-tells-the-a-cappella-story-of-Afro-American-roots will end up blending together. Tillery and the Choir are longtime friends of the festival and are always a safe bet for hip-shaking fun. Only time will tell whether the cross-cultural mix will end up lifting the roof to a higher place. I’m betting it will.


· Guit Griot Blues

Corey Harris

Mighty Popo

Olu Dara

Ruthie Foster

Sunday, 2:30 p.m.

Field Law Stage 3


This is an unquestioned slam-dunk. These are four absolute virtuosos at story-telling, guitar-picking and playing well with others. You know how you go to these sessions in the hopes that something exquisitely more than the sum of its parts will develop? This session is your guarantee of that. Corey Harris and Olu Dara have an incredible depth and breadth of musical influences and love to back up people as much as they love leading the parade. With the Central African and southern states covered so well by Popo and Ruthie, this is very nearly the quintessential Afro-American diaspora experience.


· Queer As Folk

Billeh Nickerson

Rae Spoon

Mariko Tamaki

Sunday, 4:30 p.m.

Artisan Homes Stage 6


Gawd bless the 21st century, where a folk festival is a place you can go to see queer artists picking banjos, singing songs of heartache and telling the stories of their lives. I’m expecting youthful, funny, edgy, quirky, intelligent, heartbreaking commentary on life and other things that shouldn’t be taken too seriously. Even if you’re not queer, you should definitely check it out.


· Six Degrees of Separation

Shooglenifty

Nathan

Michael Franti

Sunday, 11:40 a.m.

Field Law Stage


OK, I lied. I had to pick this one. Shooglenifty, also longtime festival faves, are an absolutely uncontainable, uncategorizable good time. It wouldn’t be fair to call them Celtic, because then all the Celtic-music haters won’t read any further. It’s just as unfair as categorizing Michael Franti and Spearhead as simply hip-hop or Nathan as simply folk-pop. They all blur those boundaries with immense energy and skill. If Spearhead and the Shoogles can find some common musical ground, this one’s going to be off in the stratosphere, with Nathan hanging on for dear life.