2015 Calgary Folk Music Festival has everything under the sun out to play, from heavy hitters to the lightly known up-and-comers

Posted by Gerry Krochak on 22 July 2015


NASHVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 18: Rachel Price of Lake Street Dive performs at Mercy Lounge on September 18, 2014 in Nashville, Tennessee

With the 2015 edition of Calgary Folk Festival set to kick off tonight at fabulous Prince’s Island Park, there’s plenty to look forward to all weekend long.

From Lucinda Williams and Father John Misty to the John Butler trio, Buffy Sainte-Marie, the incomparable Richard Thompson and your yet-to-be-discovered new favourite band, the Calgary Folk Festival is an event that embodies the joy of music like very few others can.

Which, come to think of it, makes brilliant veteran Florida act The Mavericks the perfect Sunday evening festival closer.

Too rock to be country, too country to be rock and just too damn good to be needlessly pigeon-holed, the Mavs seem to bring the house down wherever they go.

“Every time we put out a new album ... we’re never quite sure how it’s going to go at country radio,” says sticksman and original member, Paul Deakin from a tour stop in Minneapolis. “That’s why we’re pretty happy to be grouped in with some festivals this summer that are ranging from country to folk and jazz and blues.

“We just did the Montreal Jazz Festival main stage in front of 50,000 people. I’m going to say that 90% of the crowd did not know who we were when we started, but by the time we walked off the stage they were going completely ape----.

“That’s called expanding your fan base!”

And so it goes with these guys.

The otherworldly vocals of Raul Malo, the razor sharp fretwork of Eddie Perez, the piano and organ histrionics of Jerry Dale McFadden and a band chemistry so special it has to be seen to be believed never (repeat NEVER) fails to impress.

For a 15-year period from 1989 to 2004, the group rode the highs and lows of an industry that didn’t exactly know what to do with the group’s Latin-infused rockabilly and cocktail country ways. Oh sure, there were Grammy Awards, hit singles and critical acclaim, but this was a band that was tiring of banging its collective head against the wall.

An eight-year hiatus came to an end in 2012 when the lads convened for a reunion tour that went so well, an album quickly followed (In Time in 2013) and then another (Mono, which came out earlier this year).

Deakin is a little too much of a realist to wax poetic on ‘everything happening for a reason,’ but he readily acknowledges that being a Maverick has been waaay more gratifying the second time around.

“From the moment we decided to get back together and do a record ... it just felt right,” he recalls.

“I thought about more when we were making Mono last year.

“We always progress in what we do. Personally, we’re a band of audiophiles and also a self-pleasing band. If we’re making the music we really want to be making ... that’s how we define success.

“We call our music ‘non-gen’ as in non-genre specific! It has more appeal, but it also makes things like tight radio formats tough on us. By getting back together, we’ve expanded our audience by 25-30% ... easy. We’re a band that makes our living on live performances and that’s what we enjoy the most.”

Missing from the live fold, however, is original bassist Robert Reynolds who has been battling opiate addiction issues since 2013. The band had to make some difficult decisions last fall, which it did with heavy hearts.

Even the best of the best suffer setbacks ... and then get back up.

“It’s a tough one and it remains to be a tough one,” Deakin says of his old pal’s struggles. “We have our hopes for Robert, but at this point he has to do it on his own. If ever he gets there, we’ll revisit his position in the band. The first, and main, priority is that he gets healthy, obviously.”

The group has been pushing through and will continue to tour for much of the remainder of 2015.

As alluded to previously, the Mavericks live performance is a beast unto itself.

In a city where Deakin easily admits to having a lot of fun on and off a concert stage, he and his cohorts view the 2015 Calgary Folk Music Festival as a perfect fit.

“I think we are going to have to put out a dance alert,” he says, laughing. “Obviously its a great festival — so many types of music. We always go into any show in Calgary knowing it’s going to be a lot of fun. Playing in the great outdoors, playing the same night as Lucinda (Williams) ... it’s going to be an amazing night.

“When we put that energy out and it comes back, that’s what makes a great show. We’re all in this together.”