Up and Down the Hill at the Folk Fest

Bluesky Hill
Crowds gather on the first day

You can’t count the commute from car to bus to hill, and then up and down the hill over four days as a proper walk, but it was exercise of a sort, and it was in the river valley. That counts.

It’s been years since I attended all four days of the Edmonton Folk Music Festival. It was brilliant. It was incredibly entertaining and uplifting. And it was exhausting. Glad I took Monday off to recover. It’s like the rest of the world disappears, narrowing to the program and what stage to go to next. About drinking in the phenomenal music. About having incredibly personal moments amidst thousands of people. About soul-stirring generosity of spirit at the workshops. It’s about master class instrumentation and singing and in several gobsmacking instances – dancing (Gordie MacKeeman and HIs Rhythm Boys).

Gordie MacKeeman
Gordie MacKeeman

It’s also about the searing heat and early mornings and heavy backpacks. It’s about uncomfortable seats and sore asses, long trudges up the hill and expensive (but oh so tasty) food. Strange burn patterns where the sun block missed. Constant (failed) negotiations with my bladder to avoid yet another trip to the portapotty. Dragonflies darting around the crowds, feasting on the mosquitoes who were in turn, feasting on bare arms and legs. Mostly, it’s about discovery and celebration. Excited conversations about the wonders seen and heard. It’s about the laughter. It’s about the music – all the incredible music. And gratitude.

Fatoumata Diawara
Fatoumata Diawara

I’ve missed the Folk Fest in the last few years, and I’d forgotten what an amazing experience it can be, especially when you experience all four days. THANKS to Tom, a regular attendee who happily insisted that I come all four days too, my head is full of wonderful music and great memories.

Oh and thanks to the food truck with the grilled cheese wedges wrapped in a newspaper cone. That was damn fine eating.

Grilled Cheese
Grilled Cheese

Standouts for me include: the Icelandic blues band Kaleo and their stupidly talented and hilariously deadpan lead singer; the energetic and beautiful Mali singer Fatoumata Diawara; the aforementioned P.E.I fiddle playing and step-dancing Gordie MacKeeman; the always fantastically uplifting Linda Tillery and the Cultural Heritage Choir; the Senegalese Amadou Fall Trio (and his provocatively played Kora); and our last (and possibly best) act of the festival – the North Carolina (by way of Switzerland) Kruger Brothers.

The lead singer of Kaleo has better hair than you
The lead singer of Kaleo has better hair than you

My head is still swimming. Still thinking about music and conversation and grilled cheese wedges.

Sunset Hill

Today, I slept in and then went for a short but reviving walk in Whitemud Ravine, trying to land back on earth.

Raised forest floor

Thistle in Whitemud Ravine this afternoon

About 23 all weekend, no rain.

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