Regina Folk Festival 2012 IS A GO!!!
Good news, readers: I got word yesterday that my accreditation request for the 2012 edition of the Regina Folk Festival has been approved! I’ll be scrambling today to get myself ready for three full days of coverage of the greatest festival these parts have ever known.
But don’t take my word for it. Check out this article by Alex Abboud, a “social scientist” out of Edmonton who took a look at the overall benefit to a city of it’s particular folk festival versus the ticket price to see which one delivers the “best value” overall to those who attend. His findings show that the festival is worth about 400% of what the organizers here actually charge! Definitely an interesting way to look at such an event.
Anyway, on to the line-up! I touched on it briefly when the artists were first announced but there have been a few more acts added since then. You can go to the festival’s web site to check out their terrific schedule page and map out your days and nights so you don’t miss any of the performances that have you excited.
If you aren’t able to make the full festival my recommendation is definitely to get in for the Friday night main stage run. It is pretty much flawless back to front, kicking off in a big way with the much-buzzed-about Cold Specks making their festival debut. Al Spyx has been making the rounds on the folk festival circuit this summer but I haven’t seen anything clarifying if she’s brought her full band along or if she’s making a go of it herself. I’ve heard she’s a somewhat shy performer so I’d be surprised if it’s the latter. If it is though, I think we’ll be in for a treat; the songs on her much-heralded (and Polaris Prize short-listed) album I Predict A Graceful Expulsion are writ so large, orchestrated so thoroughly, it could be quite illuminative to see them performed in a bare-bones fashion.
Timber Timbre is the next to put on a full set and I could not be more excited to see them live, considering their last record was maybe the single greatest of 2011. I’d be lying, however, if I said I didn’t feel slightly ambivalent about the prospect as well. What I love about Timber Timbre is the singular mood their music creates; it envelops you in darkness and mires you in malaise. Having not had the chance to see them live I’m just hoping they can retain some of that disembodied creepiness while the sun is still shining.
Shad is up next on the main stage Friday and it should be another highlight. I think he’s the only performer that can be considered hip-hop this year and I have to tip my cap to Sandra Butel for booking him. If you haven’t seen any of our coverage of Shad before you can dig our reviews of his two previous full-length records, which were in my mind the finest rap releases of 2010 and 2008. If you’re completely unfamiliar you can also get a taste of his work on his bandcamp page, which is currently featuring a brand new EP called Melancholy and The Infinite Shadness that’s available for a pay-what-you-can download. The production is decidedly more lo-fi and sample-based than most of his work but it will still give you an idea of his lyrical dexterity and his delightful wordsmithery.
Soul maven Mavis Staples is also in the line-up. She’s been singing in funk, soul, and gospel circles for nigh on 40 years, I believe, and she’s a consummate professional. If you’ve seen her perform before you also know she’s incredibly inspirational. Seeing her in Chicago to kick-off the first day of Lollapalooza two years ago was so moving I didn’t even care that my bald dome was getting a premature start on a terrible sunburn. She’s that good!
Friday’s headliner is The Jim Cuddy Band, supporting their album Skyscraper Soul, which was released late last year. You might recognize Cuddy because of that record or from his 25 YEARS AS CO-FRONTMAN OF BLUE FRICKIN’ RODEO. Yeah, it should be a pretty good closing set.
And I haven’t even mentioned the ‘tweener sets that are slated for Friday night! I lobbied for Julia & Her Piano to be selected as a local performer and I’m glad she’s going to be get her 15 minutes on the main stage. I think she has the potential to charm a lot of people. My pal Ashley Martin interviewed Julia in advance of the festival; you can see what she had to say in the most recent QC. The Wooden Sky is also playing a teaser set and I’m excited to see how far their live show has come since they first came to my attention back in 2009. I’m expecting big things; their February release Every Child A Daughter, Every Moon A Sun was a big step forward in their songwriting and a really terrific record. Rich Aucoin plays a ‘tweener as well, having blown Regina’s collective mind away with his live set just a few months ago. Harrison Kennedy is a blues man from way back but I’m sadly ignorant of his work, so it should be a great learning experience.
And, again, that’s just Friday night! The other two days will see buzzed-about Canadian acts like Katie Stelmanis’ robotronica/danceopera juggernaut Austra, Great Lake Swimmers, and the Barr Brothers all take the main stage. I’m also excited to see Elage Diouf (a Senagalese composer who won a Juno a couple of years ago for Best World Music Album) and Pokey LaFarge (whose delightful earworm “Drinkin’ Whiskey Tonight” has been featured on Folk Festival ads on CJTR for months). One of my all-time favourite Canadian groups Stars are also on the main stage — I nearly forgot! And I haven’t even mentioned heralded headliners like Emmylou Harris and Arlo Guthrie! It’s almost too much to bear!
Check below for some preview tracks of some of these acts, but more important check out the festival! Even if you can’t get your hands on main stage passes there is a constant stream of music from numerous tents in Victoria Park all day Saturday and Sunday, not to mention food trucks and merchandise vendors and your friends and neighbours. It’s the place to be!
And keep checking back here over the course of the next week for reviews of the main stage performances, photos, and interviews with some of the artists. I’ll be co-hosting CJTR’s live show once again from 12-3pm, broadcasting live from the park and talking to some of the performers while we mix in some tunes and talk about the atmosphere and expectations of this year’s festival.
Of course for more information on all things RFF check out their spiffy web site for each and every little detail.