Saturday, 12 August 2017

Fun at the Folk Fest

So before we knew it, Justine and I were back On the Road Again (thanks Willie!) and pulling up at a very muddy Big Valley Jamboree. We were playing on the World Songwriter Stage with four other singer/songwriters, so we each took turns to play a song in front of a very warm and appreciative audience. The other artists on stage were all very different from each other, which was interesting to hear. They evidently found it super interesting to hear my goofy British accent... so I was asked to say my name into the mic, which caused great amusement..! "Polly" does not sound the same in Canada! JV and I have been having plenty of accent banter - our favourite pastime is swapping accents and seeing how long we last before we thoroughly irritate one another! Some of the words that have caused amusement so far include: paprika, oregano, herbs, water bottle, rubbish vs. trash, the never ending crisp/chip debacle.. and then there's the car/motor shop called "Mr Lube"... and "Fas Gas" petrol station... oh it's the simple things sometimes!

We left Big Valley soon after playing and made the journey to a family wedding in Lacombe - and they really know how to 'wedding' out here! Full-on trivia games for the guests and a 'How well do you know your guests?' game for the wedding party, some beautiful food, funny videos and an epic powerpoint all about the bride and groom... and an overwhelming number of guests! We then drove late that night to Canmore, so that we'd be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for the 10.30am performance we had the next morning at the Folk Music Festival. We were staying in a ski lodge on the outskirts of Canmore, which is a town right in the heart of the Rocky Mountains. It felt like being back in Banff, but somehow Canmore felt even more peaceful and beautiful (and less touristy!)

We woke the next morning to a beautiful balcony view and to the dulcet tones of Mariel rising from her slumber..! So we got in an early morning pyjama rehearsal alongside the super cool Allyson, who's a percussionist from Edmonton. Arriving at the Folk Festival was stunning, as it is literally nestled between the Rocky Mountains. We played on a side stage with possibly the best view-from-stage I've ever experienced... it was quite distracting! The sun was shining and the festival goers were already out in force, so we really had a hoot on stage. We also met one of the awesome festival volunteers called Romeo, who was such a character and very supportive of all the artists. A fellow Brit was on the sound desk, so we bonded over our silly accents and knowledge of UK geography. I stayed on to play some tunes with Erin and Ken, and jammed with another fellow Brit, Martin Kerr.

I spent the afternoon wandering around the festival, meeting some of the artists, taking in some wonderful music and exploring the town of Canmore. It was pretty scorching, so I was chasing the shade a fair bit - spot the Brit! Heard an amazing folk band called Ten Strings & a Goat Skin - give them a listen - it's my new favourite sound! It was foot-tapping, uplifting music with incredible fiddle playing and such creative writing... totally inspiring. That evening, Justine and I had what they call a "tweener" (that word makes me giggle for some reason..!) which is a 3 or 4 minute slot, playing on the main stage while they switch set-ups between acts. It's all very exciting and you don't find out if/when you're playing until shortly before. We had time for just one song, so Justine chose her beautiful tune, These Days. It was very cool to play on the main stage, but it was also a strange slot as the audience were adjusting their seats and going for loo breaks etc, but it felt good all the same! We spent the rest of the evening taking in the main acts - Foy Vance was awesome - he did super creative things with loop pedals, bowing his guitar and singing into his guitar pickup. Very cool, and such a mean moustache and beautiful Irish accent too - he's got it all! Then it was time for the after party at the local golf club, which was a great opportunity to hear Leeroy Stagger's band and have a cheeky boogie.

The next morning was another early start, with a 10:30am performance on another side stage, this time alongside David Unsworth - a great singer and loop pedal artist - and Mariel and Justine. We then had our main performance at the Pub Stage, which is the only place at the festival where the audience can drink, as Canmore is a 'dry festival'. We had wicked 40 minute slot here, playing with Brady and Allyson too. We jammed some blues, played a couple of great covers and Justine's own songs. The audience were awesome and it was such fun to be on stage with the rest of the guys. I wandered back to the main festival site and by this time, there was a storm threatening outside, so the brollies were out and fluorescent macs were on. Before I knew it though, in a spontaneous move, I was back at the pub stage playing some songs with Martin Kerr - another great test for my ears, with pretty much zero prior knowledge of the songs/keys... Quite the adrenaline rush! I then rushed back to the main stage for a quick trailer jam with Erin and Allyson, as we had another tweener to play! We did a couple of beautiful songs by Erin, and I decided to rockstar it up with some standing cello. Rock on.

It was such a treat to be able to take in the whole festival - I heard some incredible music, met so many beautiful artists and I felt so welcomed by such friendly people... and the scenery wasn't too shabby either! I felt like such a lucky ducky to be there. Justine and I rounded off our Canmore experience in style the next morning with a delicious breakfast at Communitea Café (punny!) before hitting the road back to Calgary.

Phew! What a weekend...
Next up, a week of songwriter circles, inflatable rafting and a festival wedding - stay tuned!
Pol x

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