Calgary Folk Festival: Thursday highlights

Posted by Lisa Wilton on 25 July 2015

The Calgary Folk Music Festival kicked off Thursday with almost 12,000 people descending on Prince’s Island Park for an evening of sublime folk, world and roots music.

Here are five highlights:

1.) The three Jr. Gone Wild songs I heard from the bike lock up – Due to a scheduling mistake, the veteran Edmonton band hit the stage before the published time. But their country punk songs sounded as spirited and energized as they would have been when the band was playing them in the old National Hotel in Inglewood in the 1980s.

2.) Jenn Grant – The ‘tweener’ act only played a couple of songs on the mainstage in between headliners Shakey Graves and The John Butler Trio, but she certainly made an impression. The Halifax singer’s pristine vocals wafted across the island and I heard more than a couple of audience members remark on her warm vocal style and captivating songs.

3.) Reuben and the Dark – Introduced as Calgary’s prodigal sons (and daughter), Reuben and the Dark played to a large crowd on the Twilight Stage. Led by singer Reuben Bullock, the band relocated to Toronto last year and has been working on the follow up to its Arts & Crafts debut, Funeral Sky.
Starting their set with the one-two punch of Devil’s Time and the anthemic Rolling Stone, Reuben and the Dark’s return to the Calgary stage was most welcome.

4.) Shakey Graves – Austin musician Shakey Graves shook the mainstage with a deliriously energetic and sexy set of bluesy Americana (how often can you describe bluesy Americana as sexy?)
The areas cordoned off for dancing were packed while those who remained seated on their tarps still grooved along to Graves’ gritty, boot-stomping roots rock.

The singer’s magnetic personality and stage presence was matched by his equally stellar musicianship.
Graves was also spotted in the beer garden prior to his set to the thrill of a few fans who tweeted photos of his visit.

The weather held out – There was some rain as the gates opened, but most of the evening was dry, if a bit cool. Folk Fest goers are a hardy bunch and come prepared rain or shine, but not much can beat the mix of great music, a beautiful setting and a magical sunset over the Bow River.

The Calgary Folk Fest runs until Sunday. For tickets and schedule information, go to