Calgary Folk Fest: Friday’s highlights (one of them is beer)

Posted by Lisa Wilton on 25 July 2015


(from left) Greg Coonfer, Lorne Petersen, Ada Peddlesden and Leah McCartney enjoy a pint in the Calgary Folk Music Festival beer garden.

About 11,500 people took in the second night of this year’s Calgary Folk Music Festival. Headliners Lake Street Drive and Father John Misty wowed the crowd with solid sets, while Mayor Nenshi was spotted enjoying some of the amazing food available at the Prince’s Island Park site.

The festival continues Saturday with performances by Adam Cohen, The Milk Carton Kids, Richard Thompson, Esperanza Spalding, Buffy Sainte-Marie and more.

Here are some of Friday’s highlights:
Puerto Candelaria – The high-energy Colombian band kicked off Friday night’s mainstage with a jolt of manic jazz and Cumbia.

“We’ve been practising this choreography for years,” joked one of the group’s horn section after the five male band members performed a goofy dance to MC Hammer’s U Can’t Touch This.

While the crowd was small at the beginning of their set, Puerto Candelaria’s infectious grooves and quirky stage banter entertained those who had come early.

The Folk Fest Beer Garden – The Calgary Folk Fest is first and foremost about the music. But hey, a couple of beers never made any band sound worse. In terms of festival beer gardens, the Calgary Folk Fest has one of the best in the country, bar none.

Located between the mainstage field and one of the side stages, the beer garden allows festival-goers to hear the music without leaving the garden’s leafy confines. That’s not recommended, obviously, but it can be done.  The chill vibe attracts generations of families during the day and a generally non-moron crowd in the evening.

Frazey Ford – A former member of the sorely missed Be Good Tanyas, Frazey Ford has blazed her own solo trail since the release of her debut album, Obadiah in 2010. Her latest album, Indian Ocean, spawned the biting breakup ditty, Done (which has been making the social media rounds recently) and has proven Ford to be one of the country’s best singers. Her sweet, but strong vocals stood up to a forceful, soulful backing band.
I wouldn’t be surprised if her set turns out to be one of the highlights of the entire festival.

Kid Koala – There have been many Calgary Folk Fest bands in the past that push the boundaries of folk music. But no one pushes it as far as Canadian turntablist and DJ, Kid Koala. Joined by dancing robots and other assorted characters, Kid Koala’s Vinyl Vaudeville show mixed electronic music, dubstep, noise rock and ear-battering waves of metal. At one point, Calgary’s favourite fictional banger, Terry from FUBAR, walked on stage to try his hand at deejaying. He lasted about 12 seconds. It was a funny, if strange bit in a set full of mental moments.
Kid Koala may not be ‘folk’ but he was a very cool addition to this year’s festival.

– Lisa Wilton