Calgary Folk Music Festival and National Music Centre present: 40 Years of Forward Thinking

January 31, 2019

A festival-goer basks in the down pour during the Calgary Folk Music Festival’s 2002 edition. Photo credit: Andy Learmont.

Celebrate the Calgary Folk Music Festival’s storied history and 40th anniversary through a photographer’s eyes with a new special exhibition in partnership with the National Music Centre (NMC). 

The exhibition, 40 Years of Forward Thinking, is accessible with paid admission to Studio Bell and will run from February 1 to March 4, 2019, alongside Exposure, Alberta’s Photography Festival, in venues across the province.

This lovingly curated exhibition celebrates 40 years and relives beautiful memories through 40 photographs taken by professional Festival volunteers. From the personal and poetic to the magic of performance, they capture the people and moments that make the Calgary Folk Music Festival something truly special.

Launching in the summer of 1980, a modest two-day affair dubbed the Travelling Folk Festival and Good Time Medicine show at Prince’s Island Park was the genesis of the Calgary Folk Music Festival. Forty editions later, the Festival has evolved into an iconic destination extravaganza that hosts international marquee artists and local favourites on seven stages—plus an interactive family zone, expansive beer garden, artisan market and international culinary delights—to its annual community of 53,000 audience members. It’s a four-day long weekend where a diverse, multi-generational audience is immersed in live music at a collaborative, inclusive sound salvation with a broad-ranging, edgy vision.

Folk Festers dance as the sun sets on Prince’s Island Park in 2003 and fans get up close and personal with Chris Isaak in 2012. Photo credit: Frank Gasparik (top) and Lynne Hawrelko (bottom). 

“Do you remember seeing Charles Bradley’s audience hugging spree? Or David Byrne at his first Calgary festival performance? What about artists trading songs and stories, ecstatic audience dance moves, long summer afternoons chilling on the grass, children playing and volunteers running the show? These and so many more images will be featured in this special exhibition at Studio Bell,” says Kerry Clarke, Artistic Director, Calgary Folk Music Festival.

“The National Music Centre is proud to celebrate this incredible milestone with the Calgary Folk Music Festival, an organization that we’ve had a close relationship with since our inception,” says Andrew Mosker, NMC’s President and CEO. “Studio Bell is a space for celebrating music, history, and community and this new exhibition brings all of those key ingredients together. We hope this exhibition rouses some great musical memories for our visitors.”

Over four decades, miles of fencing, hundreds of tents, stages and sound systems have provided the infrastructure for thousands of artists and volunteers to create magic for audiences from Alberta and the world.

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