Tuesday, July 31, 2012

rodeos and recluses: Calgary Folk Fest 2012 day two

Had I known that Friday's would be the last mainstage concert that I would be seeing at the folk festival, I would have chatted less and listened more.  Being a coordinator does have its benefits, in that one gets up close and personal with so many of the artists, but it also has its risks - which can mean stepping up to work extra hours when the going gets crazy.  I did manage to consume my second dose of gelato on Friday evening, though, so that certainly counts for something.

Before settling down on the tarp for an evening of grooving with family and friends under a clear sky, I hoofed it over to the media tent to confirm my interview with The Breakmen the next afternoon.  Look for that article, chronicling tree planting and a month of daily shows, in the September issue. (To read my latest BC Musician Magazine article, about a Calgary musician who went from being homeless to performing off Broadway, go here.)

The beautifully accented bagpipers Shooglenifty, the rollicking crowd favourites Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, and the indie it girl Cold Specks started out the evening. Betty LaVette made a soulful return appearance to the festival, and Winnipeg super-nice guy Del Barber squeezed in a tweener set. 

It was grand to see Dan Mangan gracing the stage at the Calgary folk fest again.  Although I think that his highly interactive performance is better suited to more intimate setting, I was thrilled to hear that he will be playing to the luxe seats at the Jack Singer Concert Hall in November.  He certainly deserves to be harvesting the fruits of his labour. 

Of course, the buzz of the evening was clearly around the final performance, that of the renowned recluse Jeff Mangum.  The former frontman of Neutral Milk Hotel has been an incredibly influential musical force over the years, a fact made even more impressive considering his relatively small body of work.  In true mysterious recluse fashion, Jeff Mangum asked that the jumbotron monitors be turned off during his performance.  

Although this miffed a sizable portion of the audience, who rolled up their tarps and went home, those of us who crowded into the dance areas by the stage were rewarded with the opportunity to sing lustily along to some of our favourite NMH songs.  In famous recluse fashion, Mangum called out one of the audience members for daring to take a photo (please don't take my pictures; if you can draw me, then you can take my picture).  Undaunted, I still managed to snap this bit of contraband, showing the famous recluse in amongst the heads and the backpacks. Such a bad-ass, I know.

Still to come, the highlights of the weekend workshops, with loads of photos.

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