Four Strong Winds

August 10, 2011

While I can still hear the melodies and rhythms in my head I must transport thoughts, recollections and observations before they fade into the vault of “Last Year’s Folk Fest”. I apologize early for my earnestness but this was my first 4-day Edmonton Folk Music Festival experience.

1. The unity of generations.

Is this not a snapshot of generational clash at it’s finest?! One set of eyes sees unkempt, disheveled, economically disadvantaged musicians, the other; a sub-group dictated by fashion and music sensibilities. The point isn’t the difference of perspective but the fact that both sets of eyes were in the same place at the same time. Which begs the question: when was the last time you were at a concert with your parents enjoying your favourite band?

2. The greatest music you never heard.

Here was my initial fallacy in approaching a festival like this. The routine was: I’d go online and check to see if the lineup had been released. Finally, when it went public I made my decision based on the knowledge of the artists that were booked. I only knew a handful but reasoned that would be enough to justify the cost. The mistake with this approach is that it’s not only narrow and shallow, but it also undermines the whole spirit of the festival. It’s not just about hearing the artists you are familiar with; its about expanding and exploring musical terrain from around the world. There is music beyond our Western continent that is worthy of attention and admiration. You’re not going to see these artists on the top of our iTunes charts, but that doesn’t mean they are any less important.

One of my favourite moments were when Mighty Popo, Baka Beyond and Jenie Thai owned that stage as if they’d been touring for years. At first glance I wondered how a local Edmonton girl would be lined up with a Rwandan troubadour and an Afro-Celtic dance band. But as they each shared their songs it was obvious that passion, honesty and tight rhythms can transcend musical genres.

The next workshop aptly titled,”The Spirit Sings” furthered my discovery. On one end of the stage stood the mysteriously mesmerizing Etran Finatawa  and on the other, bluegrass experts, The Del McCoury band. You could not have paired a more divergent group of musicians together like this!  It was heaven on earth.

3. You can’t separate the message from the music.

I can go on about the transcendent moment I had when I listened to the Gypsy Kings. Or how intimately beautiful it felt when k.d. Lang sang “Hallelujah” as the back drop of Edmonton’s skyline punctuated the majesty of that moment. I could retell how classy and enigmatic Lyle Lovett was as he dazzled through blues, gospel and country songs like a master. I might even tell you how Delhi2Dublin had an entire hill of people dancing to their bhangara/celtic/dub/dance hybrid.

There were many many moments where I felt like the luckiest person to be alive. How could I not? With my stunning wife and a myriad of friends and family who we met throughout the 4 days; it was like having the time of your life four days in a row!

Yet, it wasn’t just the moments of celebration that stood out. On the main stage, teenagers were given a short spotlight for their fundraising walk from Calgary to Edmonton as they raised funds and awareness for Somalia. Some of them were still fasting due to Ramadan which made their trek that much more inspiring.

At a workshop, Mary Gauthier shared the history of a song she wrote about Karla Faye Tucker.  She was a woman who was executed for murder in Texas despite the pleadings of religious leaders and politicians for a pardon. It was in the context of this story that Mary said something that continues to haunt me…

“Sometimes when I’m scrambling for justice I remember mercy is preferable.”

I can’t imagine a better thought to be left with as I reminisce about my last 4 days and prepare for the fall.

Please enjoy this playlist I put together of the artists I got to hear. Maybe next year I’ll see you on Gallaghar park!

 

 

 

28 thoughts on “Four Strong Winds

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  23. First thing is don’t borrow any more money from pay day lerdnes. I know their industry very well and there is only one thing you can do and that is talk to them. Lenders including pay day lerdnes are bound by both state credit codes and the uniform credit code this means that they must follow strict guidelines on how they do business and collect money(this falls under govt acts) so don’t assume that they are not answerable to anyone. In NSW there is actually a cap on the amount of interest they can charge you per annum. If you were in this situation when they lent to you then they shouldn’t have (unless you weren’t completely truthful on your application). Sometimes we are victims of circumstance and can get into trouble as you are (you are not alone). They can ask you for money but cannot make unreasonable demands or discuss your debt with anyone other than yourself. They also cannot refuse a payment you attempt to make even if it is not the amount they had hoped for.Make a repayment plan that is very small (so you are making an effort to pay) and explain that you first need to organise accomodation and maybe employment (you didn’t say if you had a job or not). If you feel you are being harassed by them contact the dept of fair trading as there are definate rules as to when you can be contacted , how, and how often they may approach you for funds. DO NOT let yourself be bullied but DO be honest , reliable and don’t committ to a repayment plan that you know you cannot afford as thay are not allowed to force you to accept an unaffordable agreement. If they are trying to direct debit the funds from your account and you have no money you DO have the right to advise them in writing to stop as the funds aren’t available (this will stop your bank account going into debit and causing unecessary fees). If they do not stop take a copy of your letter to your bank and advise them you have requested the lender in wirting not to debit your account. Your bank will then make this stop. Stay in contact with the lender and if you make regular repayments (even if it is a small amount) you will prove that your situation is genuine and your are making every attempt to rectify the situation. In these circumstances you can feel like there is no light at the end of the tunnel but trust me there is. The more you hide from them the harder it will be to solve. Beware of people offering you quick fixes as they will fix quick but leave a bitter taste in your mouth for years to come. It’s not worth it. You are better off trying to pay the money back than trying to avoid them.

  24. we should do an undercover report on Elm Cafe… hahaa.. And yes I noticed no Lizzie. I’ll have to make my own mix called Lizzie, Lissie what’s the difference?!

  25. @Caitlin- Actually, I need to devote an entire post to the “Beef Brisket Sandwich”. I’d like to do an exposé on Elm Café to see what they laced those sandwiches with because they were suspiciously addicting. Let me know what you think of the mix. Also, sorry but no “Lizzie” 😉

  26. I’m just starting to listen to the mix- so excited for it!

    You need to make an ammendment and add #4. The food or in your case. THE Elm Cafe. 😉

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