PREVIEW: Workin' overtime, Nathan Atnikov, FFWD Weekly, July 23, 2009
Folk fest workshops give artists a chance to let loose
The side-stage workshops at the Calgary Folk Music Festival can be daunting to navigate. Bands from all over the world are strewn shotgun-style across the six stages that pepper Prince’s Island Park, leading to combinations that even the musicians themselves would never have considered possible. Saturday and Sunday afternoons can be hectic, though, so if you don’t want any of the responsibility of deciding what to watch and what to miss, consider this your official itinerary for this year’s workshops.
Saturday, 10:30 a.m., Stage 3: Into the Wild
Woodchoppers Association w/ Jah Youssouf, Jay Crocker, Apostle of Hustle, Justin Adams & Juldeh Camara
This promises to be an insane early morning session. The WoodChoppers Association is a collective of improvisational musicians, dancers, singers and noisemakers that boasts “approximately 1,000 members.” Throw them onstage with a founding member of Broken Social Scene and Calgary-based pop experimentalist and the results should be boggling.
Saturday, 12:50 p.m., Stage 5: Another World
Pacifika, The Acorn, Tarhana, Apostle of Hustle
The world-influenced pop of the first two bands would make for an interesting combo on their own. Mix them in with Tarhana, a band steeped in ancient North African tradition, and Apostle of Hustle, who blends Cuban rhythms into a folk-pop pastiche, and who the hell knows what’s going to happen? Of course, not knowing is half the fun.
Saturday, 4:15 p.m., Stage 6: Will the Circuit be Unbroken?
Emily Wells, Esthero, Kid Koala, Chad VanGaalen
This is a lineup that actually makes sense on paper, but is no less intriguing for it. Emily Wells and Kid Koala provide the possibility of dueling turntables, while Chad VanGaalen’s DIY knack for moving from rickety folk to backyard dance party add an interesting element. Top that off with Esthero’s ability to paralyze an audience with her voice, and this could be one of the gems of the weekend.
Sunday, 10:30 a.m., Stage 3: Some Country for Bold Men
Danny Barnes, The Deep Dark Woods, Luluc, Good Lovelies
This workshop will transport you back in time, featuring what might be the best collection of songwriters in the whole weekend. All unplugged bluegrass and folk musicians, this group should provide each other with the perfect opportunity to swap stories and flesh out each others’ songs.
Sunday, 3:10 p.m., Stage 3: Lost in Cyburbia
Mark Berube, Carolyn Mark, Michael Bernard Fitzgerald and Justin Rutledge
This Sunday afternoon workshop is all about melodies and you’ll find the finest that the folk fest has to offer here. Mark Berube’s politically infused pop songs, Carolyn Mark’s soulful alt-country and Michael Bernard Fitzgerald’s quirky pop will supply one of the more intriguing combinations and it’ll be fun to see them bust each other out of their respective comfort zones.
Sunday, 4:15 p.m., Stage 4: Starting from Scratch
Arrested Development, Dragon Fli Empire, Kid Koala, Mutaburaka
This might seem like an obvious combination — a couple of hip hop groups and a DJ — but throw in Mutaburaka, a legendary reggae poet, and you’ve got a chance at something special. Calgary’s Dragon Fli Empire will have a chance to be onstage with some other legends, as Arrested Development make a surprise appearance on the workshop schedule.