Music for all appetites on Day 3, Heath McCoy, Calgary Herald, July 27, 2009
Alejandro Escovedo killed, plain and simple.
And Glen Campbell? The Rhinestone Cowboy was by turns great, goofy and charming.
But both of them provided moments that made day three of the Calgary Folk Music Festival a memorable one.
At press time Saturday, those were the two mainstage acts that really stood out, although, to be fair, the night's headliner, acclaimed folk-pop singer-songwriter Sarah Harmer had yet to take the stage.
Escovedo's performance was a highlight of the evening, the Mexican-American singer-songwriter kicking things off with the anthemic Always A Friend off his excellent Real Animal disc. He followed that up with the blistering rock of Everybody Loves Me and Sister Lost Soul dedicated to his fallen comrades in the punk movement.
Escovedo also has mighty folk roots and he showed as much during the quieter moments of a set that brought the night its rock 'n' roll torque.
As for Campbell, the 73-year-old country-pop legend's show had its up and downs. There was definitely an old showbiz hokeyness to his performance and his once smooth croon was a bit on the creaky side at times. Also, at a number of points throughout his set he complained that he couldn't hear his guitar through the monitors. There did seem to be some sort of glitch in that area, but ultimately it worked itself out and it was clear
that Campbell is still a dynamite guitarist with a fluid, tasty style.
Musically he was pretty spot-on showing he's still a formidable stylist on classics like Galveston, Wichita Lineman, Southern Nights and Rhinestone Cowboy. Yes, some consider the latter tune to be a punchline, but I love the thing, finely crafted pop gem that it is.
Campbell also touched on a few tunes from his comeback album, on which he covers the likes of Tom Petty and U2, and while his renditions of such tunes are solid, there was an awkwardness in their delivery live, as if Campbell's not entirely comfortable with them.
Another artist who seemed a bit uncomfortable at times was former Barenaked Ladies bad boy Steven Page who played a set that grabbed people's attention, even if some were just curious as to how he'd do without the colourful cutups he once called bandmates.
A Barenaked Ladies bad boy? Now there's an unlikely description, but hey, he was busted for drugs last year (although the charges were ultimately dropped).
Looking summer dressy in sunglasses, pink slacks and a white dress jacket, Page played a solo acoustic show which certainly had the odd awkward moment. There's no question that he's still feeling his way as a performer minus the Ladies. A few of the ol' joker's jokes even fell flat, though most seemed to hit the mark.
His saving grace, however, was the tunes he plucked from the Ladies' catalogue, all of which won him a lot of love from the crowd.
Page is a talented guy, but he's got an uphill battle when it comes to being accepted by the public without his former band.
Of course, this being a folk fest weekend the music wasn't limited to the mainstage--you could catch various artists jamming at the workshops.
Truly, if there wasn't something to satisfy your musical tastes on day three of the folk fest, you need to broaden your horizons.
Either that or give up on music altogether and take up golf.
Calgary Folk music Festival, saturday at Prince's Island Park. attendance: 12,000 (sold out). the festival wraps up today.