Monday, July 31, 2006

Gathering of the Hippies - Day 4 (Weather) Report
Only in Calgary could you be suffering from sun stroke one day and hypothermia the next. Hell, it wasn't even one day to the next, actually. Sunday, the final day of the festival - Matt Good day! - started off brilliantly, promising to be less blazing hot than the day before.

I stopped in at the Emotional Weather Report workshop and was dumbfounded after hearing Great Lake Swimmers for the first time. I knew exactly what Dar Williams was talking about when she asked them, after they finished their first song, "Do you make your mother cry every time you open your mouth?" Tony Dekker has a heartbreakingly beautiful voice, and the songs were so lovely and full of yearning that I just had to rethink my plans to catch Elliott Brood's mini-concert in the Megatunes tent in favour of the Great Lake Swimmers concert which was frustratingly scheduled for the same time.

I still somewhat regret my choice, even though the concert was being recorded by CBC Radio and will be airing on The Circuit this Friday evening. Listen for Eva yelling "wooden stars". In concert, Great Lake Swimmers, although still lovely, were a little too repetitively mournful to carry off an entire set.

Jer and I ran into a colleague who invited us into the beer gardens to cool off. During our drink, the wind suddenly blew up, whirling sand about and then, just as suddenly, switched direction, which is never a good thing when you are talking about wind. And the temperature dropped 15 degrees in 2 minutes. We went back to our tarps to put on sweaters and discovered that a thirty foot tree branch had come down a few feet from us. There had been nobody underneath at the time, but the bike helmet that had been left on the tarp was shattered. We found out later that the winds gusts had been clocked at 87 km/hr.

Eva and I settled in for the Dark Horses workshop, featuring Elliott Brood (that's them in the pic - did I ever mention I love them?), Kris Demeanor and his Crack Band, Kathleen Edwards, and the D Rangers.

We howled at the sight of the little 5 or 6 year old girl in the audience just singing along at the top of her lungs to every word of Kris Demeanor's song Get Down, You Airborne Bastards.

Then, as the sky clouded over, we headed back to our tarp for the start of mainstage. I went on a run to Camper's Village to look for blankets or something warm as we were seriously starting to freeze. Found a couple of tarps which really came in handy after the weather really turned foul.

Eliseo Parra warmed us with his flamenco music, Rachelle Van Zanteen smoked the slide guitar for a short between-set, and then Dar Williams broke our hearts with her lovely voice so sweet and poignant. But then it started to rain. And get colder.

At that point Daby Toure wowed us with his jazz/African/worldbeat uptempo fusion. It was pissing pretty steadily by then, but he assured us "the sun will come out if you want it to". And people started to dance and sing along spontaneously with his call and answer rhythms.

But it kept raining. And when Matt Good took to the stage, the skies just opened up and the winds started blasting the rain against us. It was so cold that I could see my breath.

But hold up, this wasn't meant to become a weather report, nor a complaint about how much I suffered, because I got up from where I was huddled under my dripping tarp and I stood in that driving rain (wearing a raincoat which rolled up smaller than my fist and was the consistency of a sandwich bag) along with the others and I cheered and screamed and shivered and danced my way through his far too brief set.

Matt started off with a new song, If I Was a Tidal Wave, full of classic Good political passion. I confess to not remembering all the songs, as there is no way in hell I could have written the setlist down, and my mind was half frozen by then, but he did play Strange Days (just for me, I'm sure!), It's Been A While Since I Was Your Man, Apparitions, and a lovely duet of Hurt (NIN) with Melissa McClelland, with Luke Doucet backing on guitar.

He apologized for the shit weather, explaining that it was his fault, as he had played in a thunderstorm the night previous. And he brought along his Ann Coulter doll! Matt explained that he had limited time so was unable to read us passages from her book (which he likes to do, along with some of Paris Hilton's literary offerings), but he did pull the Ann doll's string and treated us to her vitriolic right-wing diatribe. The hippies ate it up, as did we Matt Good devotees.

As Ani Defranco, the final act, took to the stage, the rain abated and it warmed up slightly. But it was too little, too late for the Zombie family. Jerry was half-dead from hypothermia and he left to go sit in the car. Eva and I braved a few more songs. We wanted to stay for the whole set, as we had never seen Ani perform before and people so obviously loved her, but in the end our broken bodies won the battle and we paddled off to our warm urban assault vehicle before the end of the show.

It was a great day, though, even though I was stupid not to have booked today off work to recover. Next year!

If you can handle one more post about the never-ending folk festival, I've got some of Eva's photos to post tomorrow (Teddy's got some great photos too), along with some highlights and oddities. And some music! So please come back; I promise I will be brief.


Barbara said...

Wow. I feel like I was there with you. 'Cept I am warm and dry. Why does Matt play with republican dolls again?

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Because he hates them (republicans that is, not dolls) and they make him laugh.
I wish you were there with me, Barbara W. We could have used your body heat! Nah, kidding, I love you for more than your body.

She's Crafty said...

What a trooper crew! Can't wait to see more photos. That really was a never ending festival huh!
We had a wack storm out here on Sunday morning..big thunder and big rain. It's been so nice we almost forgot about "the weather".

Hot chocolate, warm sweaters and a cozy fireplace for your family. You guys deserve it. I hope Ella and I will get to have those kinds of experiences together.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I think you are starting off right with taking Ella to stuff with you, Sarah. Get them hooked while they're young and you have a better chance of them wanting to come with you to stuff when they are older. That was my trick, anyway.
Now, if I was a real trooper, I'd go to the Canmore Folk Fest next weekend, but I am not.

mellowlee said...

Oh wow! Apparitions is my fav Matt Good song. I would have stayed in the rain too! Did you get any pics of Ani? Gawd, I love her. Too bad she was at the very end! What a terrific review Barbara, thank you!! I look forward to seeing the pics tomorrow.

Barbara said...

I am a natural furnace! I come in handy in the winter months. I just have to find a guy who appriciates me for my heat.

kees said...

Glad you had a good time - is that the chair that can be seen in your photo?!

Ben said...

15 degrees in 2 minutes! Whoa !

I didn't know Calgary had such extremes in temperature.

I'll look forward to more pics.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

He did a great job on Apparitions, Mellowlee, even though I am always fearful some asshole will huck something at him during that song. Remember the Regina shoe incident?
We actually packed the camera away at the start of the rain, but Teddy has a really good photo of Ani.

Believe me, Barbara W, you would have found lots of guys appreciating you for your heat on Sunday night!

Good question, Kees. No, you can actually see the corner of Jerry's chair at the bottom right of the photo, but his is not the cadilliac of chairs which mine is. The chairs behind me, I notice many of them are illegal and contravene the "legs no higher than 6 inches" rule, but I wasn't there to be a festival nazi.

Oh Calgary can be a nasty place, Ben. It's actually a high plains semi-desert, so we get huge temp variations between day and night - which is why I can't grow tomatoes.

Neil said...

you've seen entirely too much matt good for my liking. Here I get to see him every 6 or 8 years and you see him a few times a year by the sounds of things. at least it was pissing down rain. :)

Allison said...

As Barbara W said, I feel like I was there with you. I put on a sweather just reading that!. Matt Good doing 'Hurt" would have been great, I can imagine. I haven't been to a concert all summer, so I enjoy your folk-fest posts :)

John Mutford said...

Which wins out: Matt Good's Hurt? The NIN's original? Or Johnny Cash's?

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I'm so glad that my suffering has brought you some joy, Neil. Are you sure you're not German?

Get yourself to a concert, Allison! Isn't Matt playing in Victoria tonight? Just swim over to the island.
Kellee (who's on my blogroll) has a video of Matt and Melissa doing Hurt earlier this year, if you want to check it out.

You know what John? I have never heard Johnny Cash's version. Shocking, I know! And I call myself a music fan. pffftt
Any idea where I could go listen to it?

John Mutford said...

I'm aghast! I'm not sure where to tell you to find it, but if you do look for it, get the video too. Very introspective. It was nominated for an MTV award but lost to some Justin Timberlake crap. Have you really not heard it or are you pulling my chain?

Btw, one of the craziest concert covers I've ever heard was by David Usher in Ottawa, Canada Day 2002. He did Pink's "Get This Party Started" to the tune of Ozzy Osbourne's "Crazy Train". Obviously fluff, but man, was it fun.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I'm pulling no chains here, John. I am the lamest of the lame, I have seriously not heard it.

Covers can be so much fun. I really like Flaming Lips cover of "Can't Get You Out of My Head". It's great, although likely not as odd as that David Usher one.

Kellee said...

Yay Barb - thanks for the update on the show - wish I could have come up for that one, but you are an excellent reporter! Write soon, I miss ya!

John Mutford said...

Someone I knew went to Argentina and brought back a compilation CD from the b & b where he stayed. The CD was called "Even Better Than The Real Thing Vol. 2" and it had covers of recent pop songs redone by people I hadn't heard of, done acoustically and living up to its title. One was a slow version of "Can't Get You Out Of My Head" and yes, it was good. Another surprisingly good one was a cover of "Crazy In Love." I had assumed that was a crappy song (having only heard Beyonce's version). I was wrong.

~Jen~ said...

tonight is my matt good night woooohooooooooooo ill take pictures and send em to ya as its indoors, no rain .... im glad to hear he was as good as always even in the thick of personal trauma.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I was going to say you should have been here, Kellee, and then I remembered the shit weather and no I wouldn't want to do that to you. But if it had been nice, you should have been here.

John, that sounds like a neato cd. Sometimes the songs that you least expect make the best covers. All it takes is a different perspective sometimes to turn a fluffball into something meaty.
btw, I just heard Johnny Cash's Hurt and I was overwhelmed by the pathos in that song. I think knowing that he would soon be dead contributed to that, but what a powerful cover. Sorry Matty, I love you dearly, but Johnny wins.

Jen, you completely rule. All newborns for the next year shall be called Jen the Goddess. Thanks for the Hurt cover. And have a GREAT FUCKING TIME tonight!!!!

Neil said...

PS - "How you doin'?" to the lady in the matt good t-shirt.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

The lady in the Matt Good shirt is suffering from festival withdrawl, Neil. That reminds me of a shirt related incident which I shall dilvuge.

Jeff said...


I really enjoyed your Calgary Folk Fest reports. I stumbled on your blog when I was looking to see what others had to say while I was writing up my own report. Interesting how we're interested in very different things, but we have Elliott BROOD in common, that's for sure. They're amazing. Finding them was the first step towards enlightenment for you.

I only have one point of criticism. There are in fact no hippies at Calgary Folk Fest. Sure, folk fests are typically hippy-filled affairs, but Calgary Folk Fest is full of yuppies and young hipsters. Come to Winnipeg Folk Fest some time. We'll show you what hippies are all about.

Thanks for the interesting read,


Barbara Bruederlin said...

Hi Jeff, and welcome! I'm glad you liked the folk fest reportage. I shall come to read yours with great interest.
Yeah, Elliott Brood, I've been interested in them since hearing them on the National Playlist last year, and then after seeing them open for Wilco last month, I was hooked.
I've been to the Winnipeg Folk Festival a LOT, when I was growing up. It's a great festival, but I love the setting in Prince's Island Park.