Bruce Cockburn serenading the Mainstage at the Calgary Folk Music Festival. Credit: Brandon Wallis.
Under the blazing sun of a beautiful Saturday, the third day of the Calgary Folk Music Festival was one to remember with no shortage of things to see. Two acts in particular though gave truly memorable performances that could potentially be the highlights of the whole festival.
The early part of the day was packed with a diverse mix of workshops and solo performances that had each stage packed with music from 10:30 am to 5:00 pm. There were some tough choices to be made but it was hard to go wrong no matter which direction you turned. The workshop Hard Truths and Summer Breezes gave audiences the chance sit back, relax, and soak in the soothing sounds of a collaboration between The Deep Dark Woods, Jadea Kelly, Tiny Ruins, and Calgary’s own Kenna Burima. This proved to be a very interesting mix, with each member of the workshop contributing their own unique style of song writing and storytelling to the session. The atmosphere was equally as enjoyable, with those in attendance lounging in the shadows of the foliage while soaking in the sounds from on stage.
The workshop Party at Ground Zero on the National Stage 4 was truly something to behold and should go down in the books as one of the great Calgary Folk Music Festival performances. It would be hard to call this performance otherwise, with a mix of artists as great as Melvin Gibbs, Debo Band, Fishbone, and St. Paul and the Broken Bones. Packing the stage with upwards of ten musicians, things got rolling immediately with nearly the entire crowd getting to their feet and dancing after only the first song. Horns were blaring and voices were wailing as the artists on stage took each song on an extended jam that was remarkable to watch, if only for the theremin and accordion solos that were added to the mix. Really though, it was a privilege to witness such illustrious talent all taking the stage at one time.
St. Paul from St. Paul and the Broken Bones on the National Stage 4 at the Calgary Folk Music Festival. Credit: Brandon Wallis.
With the excitement of the Party at Ground Zero workshop still intact, the Mainstage performances got underway beginning at 5:30 pm and much like Thursday’s Mainstage lineup, Saturday was one great performance after another. The Lone Bellow were up first, their heart-wrenching harmonies on full display. Up next was Arto Lindsay, an artist who contrasts arty guitar noise with sultry Brazilian dance rhythms. On this night the Brazilian side to Lindsay was on full display, thanks to his exceptionally tight band. Lindsay’s soft, soothing voice and noisy guitar commentary were a perfect accent to the hypnotizing rhythms of the band.
Chad VanGaalen gave people a reason to take a break from the Mainstage and head over to the National Stage 4 and 8:55 pm. A local Calgary favourite, VanGaalen’s singular pop style was made even more enjoyable in a live setting. The rush was on to return to the Mainstage by 9:30 pm in order to have the opportunity to see storied Canadian songwriter Bruce Cockburn. Like Rufus Wainwright on Friday evening, Coburn took the entire set solo which seemed to make his songs even more powerful. Cockburn has lost none of his passion throughout the years and his set was full of energy from start to finish.
Chad VanGaalen on the National Stage 4 at the Calgary Folk Music Festival. Credit: Brandon Wallis.
Chad VanGaalen in an intense solo on the National Stage 4 at the Calgary Folk Music Festival. Credit: Brandon Wallis.
Bruce Cockburn pauses between songs on the Mainstage at the Calgary Folk Music Festival. Credit: Brandon Wallis.
— Naheed Nenshi (@nenshi) July 27, 2014
Nothing could have prepared the audience for what took place at 10:45 pm, with a legendary set played by a legendary Afrobeat group: Seun Kuit and Egypt 80.
— Jennifer Weihmann (@jweihmann) July 27, 2014
Even for the stiffest and squarest individual, it was impossible not to start moving along and dancing to the infectious music. Each song had an unstoppable trajectory that kept them building until the very end. As the curfew arrived and the band was forced to stop the crowd chanted repeatedly “One more song! One more song!” Unfortunately for all of us this didn’t happen, but we can all feel fortunate to have witnessed such a spectacular show.
Seun Kuit and Egypt 80 moving bodies as they close out night three on the Mainstage at Calgary Folk Music Festival. Credit: Brandon Wallis.
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