Monday, July 27, 2015

best of the fest

Not all the highlights at the Calgary Folk Music Festival are of the musical variety. When you get 12,000 people/day on a tiny island in the river, you get some great humanity sightings as well. Horse head guy, leiderhosen fellow, green man, bee hive lady, nose bleed dude, smiley hippie dancer, and the featured misplaced Saskatchewan Rough Rider watermelon helmet guy are just a small sampling.

Although I had absolutely no complaints about the hospitality food, that I didn't even realize until partway through day two that my guest pass gave me privileges for, the food truck offerings had their ups and downs. The weather, with its occasional severe thunderstorm warnings, was a bit challenging at times. But the music and musicians, of course, took precedence. 

Here are some of my own personal picks for memorable moments from this year's festival:

Musician who totally delivered, despite the unreasonably high expectations I held them to:
 *  Frazey Ford

Highest-spirited party band who absolutely delivered the partaayy:
 *  The Strumbellas

Hairiest country band with the best choreographed dance moves:
 *  The Dead South 

Band I had never heard of who completely gobsmacked me:
 *  Lake Street Dive

Musician, from whom I had very little expectations, who wowed me:
 *  Rhiannon Giddens

Best blistering blues:
 *  Bombino and Cecile Doo-Kingue

Long-lived legends who have still got it:
 *  Buffy Sainte-Marie and Richard Thompson

Band that I want at every kitchen party I ever attend for the rest of my life (also recommendation that my sister was totally bang on about):
 *  The Jerry Cans

Guy I want hosting every kitchen party I ever attend:
 *  Socalled

Best breakfast workshop, complete with Phil & Sebastian coffee and Sidewalk Citizen oatmeal cookie:
 *  "Uncorrected Personality Traits" - Robyn Hitchcock, The Dead South, The Strumbellas, Jennifer Castle

Musician who makes my ears bleed, whose workshop I attended just to prove that I could:
 *  Colin Stetson

Most sublime folk fest moment:

 *  Slipping out of one workshop early to get to the 4:20 workshop we really wanted to see (which just happened to be at the only tented stage) and arriving just as the skies let loose with cold driving rain, and then being blown away by Socalled, The Leftover Cuties and the Jerry Cans, as they got the entire tent up on their feet and jump-dancing with sheer joy. And then, as the workshop wrapped up, the sun came out. 

How do you beat all that? I guess we'll see next year.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

ten years of words

On this day ten years ago, I wrote my first blog post. It was the start of an exciting decade of making connections and discoveries, exploring ideas and expressing opinions about almost everything. 

A lot has changed in the blogosphere in those ten years. 

Those early years turned out to be the golden age of blogging, at least in my circles. After publishing that first tentative post, I quickly gained a staunch following of readers, whose blogs I staunchly read in return, and we spent far too much time each day writing and reading and commenting and interacting with other bloggers. Good thing I was working at a job where I had next to nothing to do for most of the day.

Over the years, though, blogging changed. People started to blog a little less often, then gradually stopped altogether. The blogosphere, or at least my little corner of it, grew smaller and smaller. Partly, I am convinced, because of the facebookification and twitterization of the internet, partly because of increased responsibilities in the off-line world, blogging fell out of favour among my friends. 

For some reason, I continued blogging, albeit a lot less frequently than the daily posting and comment answering of those glory days. But this site remains important to me and, although this ten year anniversary is very different from how I once imagined it would be (I was sure there would be cake and champagne), to me it is still a significant moment.

To all my blogger friends, those stalwart few who still continue to write and read and comment, I thank you for hanging in there. Your resilience, your stubbornness and refusal to give in to the 142 character universe are heartening to me. To all my former blogger friends, those who have become my dear friends in the real world, as well as those who passed, however briefly, through my field of vision, thank you for your thoughts and words. You have made the past ten years brilliant.

Here's to the next ten.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

10 days in 10 pictures


 We sentenced ourselves to ten days of hard labour, the Spousal Unit and I, as we set out on the 1100 km trek across the prairies to bushwhack, wield shovels, water new trees, reclaim beaches and wrastle submerged logs from the lake.

Somehow we have infinitely more energy for strenuous physical tasks there than we ever do at home. Perhaps it's the lower altitude. Perhaps it's the innate push to complete the project.

Amongst all the grunting and sweating and getting muddy, we fit in a daytrip to explore a pretty little town, fished, hosted a couple of dinners with friends, encouraged the city cat to join us on the deck, and paid a visit to the place where we met (astoundingly just two miles down the road). But mostly we just sat and admired our handiwork.