Folk Festival, Swerve Magazine, May 19,2006

Posted by on 31 May 2006

Folk Festival, Swerve Magazine, May 19,2006

In 1970, Janis Joplin, along with The Grateful Dead, The Band, Buddy Guy and Ian and Sylvia Tyson boarded a train in Toronto dubbed the Festival Express, for a five-day, moveable, musical-marathon. Joplin and friends ended up in Calgary--just as every folkie-rocker babe worth her salt eventually does. Following in Joplin's footsteps, though likely not arriving by train, for this year's Folk Music Festival are born-and-bred Calgarian Feist, Kathleen Edwards, Ani DiFranco, Macy Gray and American indie-darling (with the heart of a Canadian) Neko Case.

Kris Kristofferson (who, incidentally, wrote Joplin's only No. 1 hit, "Me and Bobby McGee") was another major catch for festival engineer, Kerry Clarke.

"He's got huge depth. I have a lot of respect for him as a human being," she says.

Also worth spending an entire, entirely chill July weekend in the park for are red-hot Bedouin Soundclash, Feist's extended family Broken Social Scene, Matthew Good, Jay Farrar's Son Volt, Jeff Healy's Jazz Wizards, "afrobaroque" artist Stew, Rubinchick's Yiddish Ensemble and dozens of other musicians from Iran, India, Mauritania, Norway and Belize.

"That diversity is always an amazing part of the festival," says Clarke. "And this year I think we really hit a lot of different marks."

As always, the Fest (which was named one of the seven wonders of the musical world by a Globe and Mail scribe recently for its groovy ambiance, gorgeous setting and brilliant progamming) offers a smorg of top-notch food vendors, plus beer gardens and bouncy-jumpy-climby things for kids. New at the event this year is Folk Boot Camp, an intensive set of workshops for burgeoning musicians, songwriters and singers interested in vocal harmony arranging, roots guitar, dobro playing and Scottish traditional music.