Calgary Folk Music Festival Sessions: bringing everyone together

On 26 July, 2010 by slowcoustic

One of the things that I found new and interesting about this year’s Calgary Folk Music Festival was the fact that they had “sessions” where you had 3-4 bands/artists performing together on one stage at one time.  I am not sure if this is a new idea or simply new to me.  Overall, it had its ups and downs, but lets take a look at a session I attended.

Sunday – July 25th: “Face Down, Feet First”

This session showed a lot of promise with the four acts being: Ohbijou, Timber Timbre, Samantha Savage-Smith and Laura Marling.  Just enough indie pop, singer songwriter and full band to get a bit of everything I thought – well, we did get a bit of everything!

The idea is for everyone to “jam” or play together with one band taking the lead for a song and move to the next artist.  What ends up happening is one artist will play one of their songs with everyone joining in to add input, layers or to just simply play along.  For the most part it worked, but essentially if you are not intimately familiar with the other band’s music, you really don’t know where to jump in or what might happen if you add your input to someone else’s song.  For example, I am not sure Laura Marling had any “real knowledge” of one of our younger Calgary artists being as she isn’t even from our continent, so you get what I am saying.  Had potential to be spectacular, but usually ended up being a subdued event overall but with some moments of full stage beauty.

What worked and moments of highlight:

~ Multiple Neil Young covers were performed – If you were following me on twitter, you would have saw me saying that this MUST be a Canadian Folk Fest when that happens.  The covers were from Ohbijou and Timber Timbre.
~ Got to hear a new track from Timber Timbre (“Vampire….” – I missed part of the title due to conversation in the crowd).  As I think TT was probably the main band I was at the entire festival for, this made my day.
~ Samantha Savage-Smith who both me and my wife are now enamored with opened with her signature song “The Fight” and almost took over the entire show.  This girl can project power with her voice and is possibly the sweetest gal around.  This is one to watch.  She could have been considered the “least known” artist on the stage, but you wouldn’t have known it.
~ Everyone sounded great – all 4 of them were “on”, nobody faltered in a live setting

What could have worked better:

~ I am not sure how much each other knew of each others songs, so often the main artists were very lightly accompanied by the rest of the stage.
~ It was a full stage.  Marling had 3, Timber Timbre had 3, Ohbijou had 5-6 and then Samantha.  So with all gear and 13 ish people on a 30 foot stage, I felt like nobody had place to really move around.
~ Laura Marling played only 2 songs.  I am not sure how comfortable she was at the performance (it was all Canadians other than her, maybe??)   She sounded great for those 2 songs, but there was 16 songs total from 4 artists and she only had her 2.  She was cheered on to play more and it looked like she was going to and then Casey from Ohbijou had to finally let her off the hook and say that “she was taking a pass”.  I think there was some disappointed fans (myself included) as she basically didn’t say a word really or play music past 15 minutes in (due to the rotation she played the 1st and 5th song out of the 16).

Overall though, the crowd very much enjoyed it (I did) and we all got to see some really great music.  Highlights were Savage-Smith’s “The Fight”, Timber Timbre’s “Demon Host” and Ohbijou’s “Black Ice” that ended the session (on recommendation of Taylor from Timber Timbre).

See some pics below:

Laura Marling

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The sisters of Ohbijou

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Samantha Savage-Smith

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Taylor Kirk of Timber Timbre

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I also want to thank the Calgary Folk Music Festival for giving Slowcoustic Media credentials in order for us to get slightly better photos than some, comfortable locales to hang in and they even assisted in interviews and festival information!  Kudos!  We will have some interviews with Calgarians Samantha Savage-Smith and Jordan Klassen upcoming this week – so keep an eye on this space.

Some music for you (as this is still a music blog…)

Goodbye England (Covered In Snow) – Laura Marling (Visit)
Black Ice – Ohbijou (Visit)
The Fight – Samantha Savage-Smith (Visit)
Lay Down In the Tall Grass (Live on Camera Music) – Timber Timbre (Visit)

~Smansmith

2 Responses to “Calgary Folk Music Festival Sessions: bringing everyone together”

  • Swapmeet Louie

    Wow that’s a weird way to stage a concert… so many people on stage and they’re probably just standing around doing nothing while the other ones play. Definitely would take the focus off the performing artist.

    Glad you enjoyed the time! Thank you for posting about it!

  • Chris

    The sessions that you saw are generally called “workshops.” These sets are very typical of the Calgary Festival (not at all sure if it happens elsewhere). It really depends on the workshop, but some can turn out great (There was one workshop with DJ Dolores, Mauvais Sort and El Puchero Del Hortelano that resulted in some very funky versions of DJ Dolores’ music), other times the workshops result in what is simply a group of artists playing a song or two of their own with no input from the others on stage.

    Nonetheless, glad you enjoyed the festival. Hope we see you again next year.

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