This year’s Vancouver Folk Music Festival was a wonderful success. Held at Jericho Park, next to Jericho Beach, the event spans the largest physical space devoted to any festival in the city. This year marked the festival’s 30th anniversary, quite a feat for an event that doesn’t accept corporate sponsorship.
With well-known acts such as The Be Good Tanyas, The Wailin’ Jennys, Hawksley Workman, Oh Susanna and Utah Phillips, there was never a dull moment. The collective artists seemed to win the crowds with politics, humor and, of course, great music. The best way to fit all of the artists in is the weekend pass the festival sells, a must if you intend to spend the weekend hanging out with music and Vancouver’s spectacular skyline.
The Be Good Tanyas
A local favorite, these three women were a crowd pleaser. Their personal and meaningful lyrics were catchy and tended to stick in your head, which wasn’t a bad thing at all. They played to large crowds, both on the smaller and larger stages.
The Wailin’ Jennys
The gorgeous voices of these ladies were a hit during the evening performance on the main stage. Their vocals soared to the huge gathered group of listeners in a sweet harmony. The new addition to the group, Heather Masse, completes the trio perfectly.
Suzie Ungerleider sings about the darker side of things with compassion and warmth. She fuses honest lyrics with a tender voice to create the powerful songs she is known for. Originally from Vancouver, she has been compare to Bob Dylan, Gillian Welch and Johnny Cash.
What a pleasure it was to listen to Utah Phillips’ stories and music. The best place to listen to him was one of the more intimate stages where the crowd could feel like they were in his living room hearing stories from his past while he strummed or sang. He brought with him his son, Brenden, whose band, Fast Rattler, shared the stage with this folk legend.
Tapia eta Leturia
From Basque Country, this romping set of duos plus a violinist and pianist, brought with them a magical set of toe tapping melodies. The area around the stage was set for dancing, frolicking and being joyous. Never before has Basque music been played at the festival, but it was certainly a delightful addition.
Mihirangi, Mushfiq Ensemble and Adham Shaikh’s Dreamtree Project
This collection was one of the best shows of the weekend. Full of buoyant beats and zany energy, the performance was a non-stop hit with the crowd. Mixing Mihirangi from New Zealand, the Mushfiq Ensemble from Canada and Afghanistan, and Adham Shaikh’s Dreamtree Project from right here in British Columbia, the set was electrifying. When the last note ended and the dancer stopped shimmying, the crowd stood up for more.