It started off windy, but thankfully with clear skies Thursday afternoon for day one of the Calgary Folk Festival 2014. Eager to find the most coveted spot near the main stage the crowds of tarp carriers in Prince’s Island Park didn’t seem to mind the winds. And so it was amidst all the usual traditions of opening day that the focal point of the whole event, the music, set an impressive precedent for the rest of the festival. Beginning at 5:30 pm with Minnesota bluegrass stars Trampled by Turtles, the main stage bands of the evening kept the momentum going until Andrew Bird & The Hand of Glory’s last song shortly after 10:00 pm.
Duluth, Minnesota “newgrass” outfit Trampled by Turtles started things off calmly with three beautiful renditions of some of their slower numbers. Known as bluegrass “shredders,” the slow-moving opening tunes showed off their penchant for interesting harmony shifts and the smooth, clear, solid live voice of lead singer Dave Simonett. Things eventually got moving with the band playing hits like “Wait So Long” to the consistent delight of the audience. As the opening act to the festival, Trampled by Turtles were the perfect mix of serene and spirited, setting the bar high for the acts to come. If you didn’t get a chance to see them on Thursday unfortunately this was their only set, however do yourself a favour and check out this live set from Bumbershoot Music Festival 2013.
Trampled by Turtles’ live set from Bumbershoot 2013.
Newfoundlanders Hey Rosetta! were up next at 7:40 pm, and much like Trampled by Turtles provided a solid set and showed off their musical talent with a polished live sound. This continued to be a trend for the rest of the evening and is worth noting as all the groups performing on Thursday proved their talents as musicians, adding a whole new layer to the live versions of all their songs. As a group Hey Rosetta! were fun and enjoyable to watch. The band’s enthusiasm was evident through the unplanned choreography the group showed off in each song, something that found its way into the audience as well. Their upbeat and lively songs came off just as well as the choreography and the band undoubtedly found some new fans after the evening’s performance.
Ending the evening was Andrew Bird joined by his band The Hands of Glory. The band was impressively tight, altering many of their album tracks and turning them into extended jams. The five-piece band featuring drums, guitar, violin, stand-up bass, and pedal-steel was made to sound like a much larger group thanks to the abilities of each member on their instruments.
The cold temperatures quickly moved in as the set began and the crowd bundled up, not wanting to miss the unique genre-bending sounds of Bird’s song-writing. As the 10:00 pm curfew neared the band kept on going, pushing the envelope of the law and providing a great end to a great day one of the Calgary Folk Festival.
Hey Rosetta! can be heard once more on Friday at 3:00 pm on Stage 4 and Andrew Bird can also be heard again on Friday at 4:30 pm on Stage 4.
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