Calgary Folk Music Festival: Must-see workshops for the weekend

Posted by Mike Bell on 22 July 2016

Musician Cécile Doo-Kingué

Musician Cécile Doo-Kingué is performing at this year's Calgary Folk Music Festival. TERRY HUGES IMAGES / COURTESY

Like all sciences — including math, geometry, climate change, magnets and scrapbooking — the act of planning your weekend folk fest workshop viewing is an inexact one.

You think you’ve got the formula right, all of the theorems figured out, the models correctly generated and then someone paid by special interest groups or someone elected by special interest groups tells you that it’s entirely wrong and that both you and science are stupid.

It happens. What are you gonna do about it?

Well, for starters, you can listen to someone who has only your interests at heart, someone who doesn’t understand any science, and in fact had to actually copy and paste the word just to make sure it was spelled correctly.

With that in mind, here are five scientifically unsound must-see workshops at this year’s Calgary folk fest on Saturday and Sunday.


1:50 p.m. Mayors of the Moon on Stage 6

Bonnie Prince Billy + Bitchin Bajas, Robbie Fulks, mini-mekons, The Sadies

Or possibly space cowboys? Either way, you’ll likely get a headful of psych, folk, rock, country and pop from this crew of masterful musical noodlers. Hope for some way, way out there improv jams and prepare for liftoff.

3:20 p.m. Mullets, Beards, Barrettes on Stage 5

Braids, Michael Bernard Fitzgerald, Evan Freeman, Oh Pep!

If you want a great taster sampling of homegrown, this is the place to be. MBF and Freeman are two true tunesmiths who’ve stuck around, Braids an electro act that have evolved quite spectacularly since relocating to la belle province, and odd-ones out, Aussies Oh Pep! offer such hella hummable folk-pop that perhaps we’ll just lie and claim them as our own. 


10:30 a.m. That’s Gonna Leave a Mark! On Stage 3

Bobby Bare Jr., Eilen Jewell, Carolyn Mark, Northern Beauties

The entertainment value from the interactions onstage alone should make this one memorable without any note being strummed or sung in this rootsy roundup. Mark and Bare Jr. are two of the most affable folks you could find and will likely ramble on in delightful ways, hopefully spurring on local boys the Beauties and Boise girl Jewell.

11:25 a.m. The Spirit Moves on Stage 6

The Bros. Landreth, Fats Kaplin and Kristi Rose, Colleen Rennison, The Steel Wheels

The past few years, the popular gospel workshop has been replaced by something a little less traditional but still soothing for the soul. And for those who get their churchin’ from the gospels of St. Jack and St. Daniels, this would be the stoppin’ spot on this folk fest Sunday morn. Some country with a blues chaser, it should be communion worth taking.

12:40 p.m. It was a Dark and Strummy Night on Stage 1

Cécile Doo-Kingué, Martin Harley and Daniel Kimbro, Lisa LeBlanc, James Blood Ulmer Trio

A feast of musician’s musicians, this early afternoon set should be electric. And funky. And bluezy. And twangy. With both honky and tonky thrown in for good measure. If you want to be mesmerized by watching those who truly know how to use and beautifully abuse their stringed instruments of choice, then you’re going to want the front row for this one.

The Calgary Folk Music Festival runs until Sunday at Prince’s Island Park. For tickets and the full lineup and schedule go to