Last weekend was the 2012 Calgary Folk Music Fest and yours truly was front and center (well sometimes more off to the left or right) and below is a short run down of who I saw and some commentary. Oh, there will most likely be some music somewhere in the post – not from the festival, just the artists in general.
The first day we were there we saw Cold Specks, a snippet of Del Barber, Dan Mangan and Jeff Mangum. Once again, kudos to CFMF for making a line up that includes the words Mangan & Mangum immediately next to each other.
Cold Specks was one of the artists I was really looking forward to and she did not disappoint. She played most of the songs from her debut album I Predict A Graceful Expulsion and played them very well. She was personable and self deprecating between songs and during songs you just sat with mouth agape at the performance. Her voice is powerful and her songs moving – one of the highlights for me for sure. Despite now essentially being in the UK, she is a Canadian from Ontario and we definitely noticed that she has been out of the country for a while as she started to have the English accent at times. Funny. Did I mention she did the Cold Specks version of the theme song to Fresh Prince of Bel Air? Well there is that too.
Hell, I bought the vinyl while there, so she truly did impress this digital age guy! She also played on the main stage as a “tweener” or an in between performance of the headliners and she did well there, but I do think she works better on a smaller stage and you get a more in touch performance with the smaller venues at the fest.
Speaking of tweeners, we also saw Del Barber on the main stage right before Dan Mangan came on and he did such a great job we changed our schedule on Sunday to include his solo performance from his workshop in order to get more of Del Barber. You see, at CFMF they have soo many musicians that there are workshops where 4-5 musicians/bands perform together – kind of a more bang for your buck kind of thing. But with this format, you lose the option to see some artists as an actual solo show – we could not have that with Mr. Barber, so we updated our plan for the weekend. More on this later.
Next we saw Dan Mangan and he was there to rock out. He had the main stage and he owned it. I had only seen Mangan once prior on a much smaller stage and I don’t know if I was ready for rock star Mangan! We all know he has some great folky ballad type songs that he truly owns but he came out and for the most part was indie rock the whole time. The crowd was really into Mangan and sang along and he delivered. I have to say that I am uber glad he did slow it down a couple times and he played Basket from his 2010 album Nice, Nice, Very Nice and it was awesome. A great tune, thx Mr. Mangan, much appreciated (I guess he read my post prior to the show…).
The headliner of the day was Jeff Mangum. Yes, Calgary Canada apparently thinks Jeff Mangum is a celebrity! I was not so silently impressed that Jeff Mangum agreed to take our money and perform, but more so that CFMF pursued him to perform. I know for sure there was more than a few people there that “don’t get” Jeff Mangum – I assumed this would have been 90% of them to be quite honest. I am sure it didn’t help when Mangum refused to allow press to take photos in the pit (or be there), insisted that the festival screens not display him (fear of recording it was the reason I assume). So you had to be fairly close to even actually see him sitting on his chair alone on the stage as the CFMF field is rectangular and long…but I digress. So, what really blew me away outside of a few of my favourite songs was the fact that the front throng of people at times went bat shit crazy over him! I mean, seeing muscle shirts and backwards cap dudes screaming lyrics to Oh Comely was more surreal than actually having the chance to watch Mangum perform it in front of you. If you are familiar with Mangum lyrics to the song, you know how bizarre this experience could be. Oh yeah, he opened with Oh Comely and I practically shit my pants. Just sayin’.
Overall, standing room only, great songs (about 70% were non In The Aeroplane tracks…) and I can check something off my bucket list. Still kinda reeling from the entire experience actually. But once again, I digress.
The Fest definitely started out strong…what am I to do for tomorrow? So, I am going to stop this post now and pick up another tomorrow with 2 more days of commentary so as to not bombard you with everything all at once.
p.s. Of note, my “Day One” was actually Day Two of the fest as it started on Thursday evening but I could not make it. :-/