Jeremy Nolais, Metro Calgary: Folk isn't a dirty word anymore

Posted by on 29 July 2012


Before the first guitar strum, this year’s Calgary Folk Music Festival was already sold out.

That was likely a first for the 33-year-old, four-day shindig on Prince’s Island Park and will almost certainly amount to record crowds come the end of performances Sunday.

“Folk isn’t a dirty word anymore,” said artistic director Kerry Clarke. “I am really seeing a lot more young people come out . . . people are realizing what we are all about with the workshops we put on and are coming earlier.”

This year’s festival didn’t come without its share of hurdles. Originally planned Saturday headliner Sinead O’Connor pulled out in April forcing a scramble of sorts. Then, during the actual festival, afternoon showers Saturday sent many festival goers running for shelter.

Nevertheless, the sun appeared set to shine on the final day Sunday with headliners Randy Newman and Iron & Wine set to take the evening stage.

And when the tarps have been folded up and the instruments packed away, Clarke admits she will go right back to work for 2013′s event.

“I have in mind some headliners that we have been going after for years . . . our reputation just keeps growing,” she said.

But that didn’t stop thousands from coming out, including Jim Rea and his two sons Philip, 15, and Darren, 13. The youngsters have been taking in action on the mainstage since they were in diapers.

“It’s a beautiful thing,” Jim Rea said of the festival. “These guys would like a little more dub-step and hip-hop, but there’s something for most people.”

About 13,000 people attended the Calgary Folk Music Festival each day this year — that’s about the capacity for the festival site at Prince’s Island Park.