Monday, July 30, 2007

The Volunteer Monologues: And then I said to Hawksley Workman "excellent choices, I would highly recommend both of these cds"

A cold front blew through the city early this morning, finally bringing relief from the searing heat and brutally scorching sun through which we have been folk festivalling the last four days. We could have used that cold front a few days ago, but at least it was more comfortable for the crews handling the rest of the tear-down today.

But what a fine festival it was! It you will indulge me, I'd like to share some stories with you over the next few days, tell you about some of the concerts, some of the often strange and always unique musical matchups in the workshops, bombard you with awesome photos by our own resident photographer, let you hear some of the music I brought home, and of course, give you my perspective as a newbie volunteer.

Today's post, however, goes out to all you list junkies out there (and I know I'm not the only one). It's the hotly-debated and much anticipated
Bad Tempered Zombie's Festival Highlights:
Biggest surprise:
- forget Tubthumping; this merry band of anarchists have produced 20 albums over the past 20 years. They wowed me with their achingly beautiful harmonies and their retooled English folk songs. Slyly subversive activism at its finest.
Most regretted missed mainstage concert:
Bettye LaVette
- much as I loved my volunteer gig, it was inevitable that a few shows would be missed, and I understand that the great lady of R&B and soul put on a jaw-dropping show.
Most anticipated wardrobe:
Anne Rust D'Eye (John-Rae and the River)
- from the minute she hit the stage on Friday night in her one-piece spaghetti-strapped denim jumpsuit cinched with a wide red leather belt and accented with a red cowboy scarf artfully draped around her throat, we were mesmerized by her fashion choices. She did not disappoint and daily kept us in awe, not only with her powerful vocals, but with her highly personal style.
Performer whose sessions I attended most:
tied between Final Fantasy and John-Rae and the River, each with three
Best rock star encounter:
Hawksley Workman
- I happened to be in the back area of the record tent when he came in to search for a couple of his own cds to present to a friend. As the others left to find the cds, I found myself alone with him and told him how much I had loved all his concerts. Ever the showman, he responded by pumping his fist in the air with a "yes!" And when he later showed me the 2 cds he had picked out, I even got a laugh from him when I complimented his taste in music.
Best volunteer perk:
chance meetings with performers
- see above
Biggest crisis diverted
reading glasses disaster
- Sharon, the optomological super-star, straightened out the arm on my glasses after I kind of dragged a big pallet of knapsacks over them.
Number of meals consumed which featured tofu:
- it was a folk festival, after all
Most rousing workshop:
"Didn't it Rain", with Jim Byrnes, John-Rae and the River, and Crooked Still
- a Sunday morning gospel session of sin and redemption set in a shady grove. Despite the +30C temperatures, the mix of old gospel songs, new tales of debatchery and Robert Johnson classics gave me the chills, it was that good.
Most covetted fashion accessory that I couldn't find anywhere or I would have bought one:
rice farmer hats
- great design for sun protection if I ever saw it, and esthetically pleasing to boot. These are going to be big
Number of gelatos I consumed:
2 plus a Rollo cone
- not bad, considering how bloody hot it was
Most anticipated performer who lived up to the expectation and more:
John-Rae and the River
- if you have not yet heard these guys with their energetic mix of country-soul mixed liberally with indie sensibilities and boozy rock, blues, gospel, and Motown, do yourself a favour and seek them out. My newest favourite band.
Number of cds I bought:
Way too many. And yet, not nearly enough. Okay, 11, if you must know, but 3 of them were EPs.
Most unique new genre:
country hip-hop
- Ridley Bent evoked images of cowboy-hat wearing gangsters with his stories of bad cops and drug deals.
Best vicarious experience through a conversation in line with a stranger:
Learning that both Neko Case and everybody from John-Rae and the River had been at the same bar as the tall woman with the coffee cup
- she even chatted to Neko, who, when they started playing her music, groaned and exclaimed "I've got to get out of here!"
Most notable how-do-they-do-that moment:
Tuvan throat-singing by Chirgilchin
Best accordion player:
Toss up between Geoff Berner and the guy from Luba Alexandrov and Kabo Horo
- Kabo Horo absolutely smoked the joint when they played the volunteers' after-party on Friday night, but Geoff Berner gets points for his extreme smart-assery, and the fact that he wrote a booklet entitled "How to Play the Accordion" (which I also recommended to Hawksley Workman).
Most regretted missed workshop/short concert:
"Six String Nation", with Steve Dawson, Paul Rigby, Jon Rauhouse, Hawksley Workman, Lubo Alexandrov
Final Fantasy short concert
"Tempo Tantrums", with Hummers, John-Rae and the River, Chris Smither, Paul Ubana Jones
- there really are almost too many to mention, for various reasons - overlapping schedules, volunteer shifts, too much sun, but those would be in the top three.
Best decision of the festival:
Staying at a hotel downtown on Friday night
- schlepping back and forth to the suburbs is increasingly exhausting as the weekend goes on. I was able to attend the volunteers' party on Friday and next year we may look at staying over on Saturday.
Toughest part of the folk festival:
The heat and the unrelenting sun now seem insignificant to the fact that I have to wait 365 days until the next one


John Mutford said...

Very cool Hawksley Workman encounter.

I've heard so much about Chumbawumba lately. Hmmm. Apparently we've all misjudged them, eh?

JustRun said...

That sounds fantastic! Now you're even more hooked than before. And with those chance meetings... you just never know. That's a great line, by the way. I am keeping that one in the file!

I love your categories... most anticipated wardrobe. Hysterical.

And Chumbawumba? Whoda thunk?

Joe said...

That sounds wonderful! I think those coolie hats are kick-ass.

So, is it tough to get back to the workaday routine after a festival like that? I'd think so.

Anonymous said...

You had 2 tofu dishes? Really?!? COOL, woman. You KNOW how does that my heart good. ;)

The country hip hop has me baffled, I honestly, totally, sincerely cannot imagine how that would sound. I'm so intrigued but I'm kinda scared since it's sorta country and all. Will you hold my hand, Barbara?

oooooh, the heat sounds MISERABLE. I'm so sorry. You needed more gelatos.

Evelyne said...

Country Hip Hop? sounds interesting, but I don't think that I might love that.

It sounds as it was a lot of fun and that you really enjoyed it. And that encounter was nice!

BeckEye said...

Well, that is one masculine-looking female cow. We should get her on Extreme Bovine Makeover.

Becky said...

Haha, that Workman encounter sounds like fun! I got my photo with him... did you see the Life is a Cabaret workshop? I thought it was better than 6 String nation...
I would have to vote for Geoff Berner, but that's just because he stole my heart last year at EFMF... never fails to make me laugh :D I saw his book, I personally enjoyed the "how to insert a lamb carcus into your new accordian" section.

Beth said...

I'm feeling your Betty LaVette pain, too.

What a fan-damn-tastic weekend, Barbara! Very jealous.

Allison said...

I didn't read the title to this post, just looked at the picture, and didn't notice it was a new post! And now its past me bedtime, so I shall come back and read in the morn :)

hilary m. said...

I really loved Jon Rae & the River. I got a chance in the lunch line to tell Anne Rust D'Eye (ever the snappy dresser) how much I loved their workshop with Final Fantasy. I actually saw Final Fantasy a maximum of four times. I was front and centre for the last concert, it was quite spectacular (I got Owen Pallet's autograph, he probably thought I was stalking him). I'm glad you had fun, I had a blast!!

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Hawksley was a very cool guy, John. I've admired him for a long time and it was so great to find him to be so personable
As for Chumbawamba, yeah, we weren't getting all the information on them, that's for certain.

I am going to need to go on the 12 step program now, Justrun, as I'm already waiting for next year's festival.
You should have seen some of her amazing outfits - very retro ironic - at least that's what I think she was aiming for.

I wisely took Monday off this year after almost dying last year, Bubs, but yeah it's going to be a real culture shock heading into work today.
If I find a source for those hats, I'll let you know.

The tofu meals were really very good, Michelle. It's something that would never go over with my family, so if someone else makes them for me, I'm there.
The country hiphop was intriguing, but take it out of the setting, and it wouldn't really be my thing, so never fear - I'm not going all cowboy hat on you.
The heat itself wasn't too bad (for me) but I can't handle the sun.

Interesting as it was, I cannot see you loving the country hiphop, Evelyne. But there were a lot of musicians I think you would have really enjoyed.

Anonymous said...

Considering your exposure to music during the festival, I find just 11 cds to be a rather tame purchase! Perhaps it was that "scissor sun". :)

Barbara Bruederlin said...

She is a pretty butch cow, isn't she, Beckeye? Would she get to spend a week in New York if she went on EBM? Because I would offer to chaperone.

You DID make it to the folk fest, Becky? Yes! I just wish we could have met up. I was working during Life is a Cabaret, but Eva was there, and she also bought Geoff Berner's book, which is hilarious - the lamb fetus bit is uber strange, and I also liked the learning how to swim part. We've been big fans of Geoff since he opened for Billy Bragg last year.

At last it is your turn to be jealous of my concerting, Beth. (We seem to have a lot of give and take here). Bettye LaVette just killed, I am told.

We're open 24/7, Al. Come on back any time. I'll put the tea on.

I'm really glad you had such a memorable time, Hilary. You really did a great job of maximizing your rock star encounters too.
For the record I'm pretty certain Owen had a few stalkers that weekend, at least he seemed to have a contingent following his every step.
Weren't John-Rae and the River awesome? I can't stop listening to them now.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Ooops sorry, I missed you there, Leazwell.

Yes, I had to hold myself back, as I was spending far too much money. Now of course I wish I could go back and grab a few more - now that I have been out of the sun for a while.

justacoolcat said...

I just bought a Chumbawamba CD this weekend. Good stuff. I wouldn't count on that big rice hat fashion surge you are predicting; you were at a folk festival.

I'm just sayin'

Becky said...

Yeah, I managed to get down, it was so much fun! I stopped by the record tent a couple of times, but didn't see ya, which was too bad, but there's always next year!

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Which Chumbawamba cd did you get, Just A? I bought A Songbook and an Scrap and was sorely tempted to get the newer live one as well, but I had already spent way too much money.
Hmmm, I see your point about the rice hat not translating out of the folk festival setting, but on the other hand, they are such a sassy style that I think they can surpass the transfer from hippyland to yuppieville.

Oh darn! I would have loved to have met you, Becky. I'll give you my schedule next year and hopefully you are planning to come down for it again. I'm so glad you had a good time - I had an absolute hoot.

phlegmfatale said...

I love that cowgary logo - super-cute!

Seriously, Barbara - you are one of the coolest people ever! Glad you had a grand time and the occasional touch with greatness. WOOHOO!

Dale said...

I'll be looking for John-Rae and the gang Barbara, I love me some old tyme gospel music. Sounds like you had a blast, I'm happy you got in so much great stuff.

mellowlee said...

Wow, sounds like a great time! I'm glad you had so much fun. :O)
I will have to check out Chumbawumba..the only song I've ever heard is tubthumping! Who knew!!!!

Serah said...

sooo jealous. I am being a cheap bastard and doing everything humanly possible to ignore that Final Fantasy will be in Vancouver.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

You would love the cow playing the accordion which graced the front of our volunteer t-shirts, Phlegmfatale - also very sassy and quite possibly a relative of the guitar-playing cow. Too fun!

I do too, Dale, which is really ironic when you consider my (non)beliefs. John-Rae and the River hale from your parts, I'll bet you could easily check them out in person. They are one of those bands who are awesomer live.

I couldn't have been more surprised by Chumbawamba, Mel - not at all what I was expecting. And I had no idea how very political they are. I owe them an apology.

That's a hard one to ignore, Serah. He certainly had a huge following here at the festival, and he's such a funny little guy, very stiff at first, but really warming up as the weekend went on.