Gerry Krochak, Calgary Sun: Ladies rule at Folk Fest

Posted by on 28 July 2012


Day 3 at the Calgary Folk Festival and all was well — for the most part.

After alternating between getting hammered by sun, the odd shower and a few brisk wind gusts here and there, the Folkfest faithful settled in for a superb evening of main stage entertainment from Mary Chapin Carpenter, Gillian Welch, Serena Ryder and the Beauties, Junior Brown, Besh o droM and Shakura S’Aida. And the sun came out again …

Joined by longtime musical partner David Rawlings, Welch was the epitome of stark beauty. Dressed in matching white and red western suits, the duo overcame some onstage feedback through the hauntingly gorgeous and naked arrangements of Hard Times, The Way It Goes, I Want To Play That Rock And Roll and the brilliant title cut from 2001’s Time The Revelator to the attentive and appreciative evening masses.

 Under a clear sky, the duo was the perfect precursor to Chapin Carpenter.

Serena Ryder has been riding a Juno-award winning wave over the past few years on the strength of albums such as Is It OK and If Your Memory Serves You Well.

Strong material such as Sisters Of Mercy, Hiding Place, Brand New Love and, especially, Little Bit Of Red were brought to life through Ryder’s passionate vocal performances and onstage chemistry with The Beauties.

 Clearly, the ladies ruled on this night, but Brown was not to be outdone.

 Despite battling some early technical difficulties, the Indiana born, Austin-based lap-steel specialist ripped it up just prior to Ryder’s show with the Beauties.

Dapper in a silver and black suit and armed with his trusty “Guit-steel” double necked contraption, the 60-year-old Brown knocked out Broke Down South Of Dallas, Party Lights, My Wife Thinks You’re Dead, and a killer version of Phantom Of The Opry for the early evening throng.

Junior plays both kinds of music — country and western.

Before Brown, the frantic and eclectic world vibes and gypsy dance music from Hungary’s Besh o droM inspired a small, but enthusiastic dance floor stage right and left — weird, wacky, fun and the embodiment of the global joy that music brings.

Brooklyn-born, Switzerland-raised, Toronto-based Shakura S’Aida gained fans and friends every time she opened her mouth during a number of performances throughout the weekend — none more powerful than her main stage-opening slot last night. Olympic-ready in a form-fitting gold mini-dress and gold high high-heels, she knocked ’em dead with a scorching and sexy 40-minute set of bluesy rock and soul from her double CD, Time.

 S’Aida dropped the Long John Baldry-inspired Don’t Try To Lay No Boogie Woogie (On The Queen Of Rock And Soul) to open, and then ebbed and flowed with ferocious vocal power through The Devil Only Knows My First Name, Bring Me Back, That Ain’t Right, the new album’s title cut and a relatively obscure Billy Holiday cover: Tell Me More, More, And Then Some. WOW!

All six side stages were hopping from 10:30 a.m. on. Tim Williams, Bettye LaVette, Cold Specks, and S’Aida all performed as part of “Soul Laid Bare,” while Sarah Jaroz and Raleigh’s Chatham County Line both made strong arguments for being main stage performers in the years to come.

Big crowds also gathered for John Doe, Tift Merritt and “Guit Up” which featured Colin Linden, The Breakmen, The Rural Alberta Advantage and Three Metre Day.

The Heritage Posters and Music tent was also a busy destination throughout the day.

It was easy to tell the artists that had made an impression on the Folkfest faithful by Day 3.

Charles Bradley CDs were sold out and the vinyl was shrinking fast. Beirut, LaVette, Dan Mangan and S’Aida were also selling “product” by the boxful. Bottom line? Terrific support of the Calgary Folk Festival artists by attendees.

Sunday’s main stage performers include Iron & Wine, Randy Newman, Justin Townes Earle, Marc Ribot Y and a special festival finale.

Once again … see you there!

It happened at Folk Fest

One overzealous tarpie running towards the stage on Saturday morning (Hey, no running!) got a prime spot, but lost a wedding ring in her haste (that’ll learn you for running). 

In any case, several CFF volunteers were combing the main grandstand area on their hands and knees and, initially, the best they could come up with was a pop can ring.

Finally, Monique de St. Sroix, who is the festival’s Production Security Coordinator, spotted the shiny bauble in the grass, and, during a humorous sleight of hand, pulled the diamond ring from behind the unnamed woman’s ear.

De St. Sroix is still recovering from the drenching of tears and hug she received.