2013 Vancouver Folk Festival Day One: Kathleen Edwards (and more)
Dawn hit Vancouver on the morning of the first day of the 2013 Vancouver Folk Music Festival in the best possible way: with the festival site at Jericho Beach bathed in golden sunshine and temperatures enough above normal that it seems like summer is fully here in the Pacific Northwest. It doesn’t get better than this, and it’s nice to kick off a weekend of live music the right way.
The three day festival kicked off with its normal post-work evening schedule. Organizers showed some savvy and featured local favourite Hannah Georgas early in the evening. Post work commitments mean I missed the set, but a survey of the crowd came back with overwhelmingly positive feedback. Georgas was followed by Toronto singer-songwriter Hayden, who played a strong set to a crowd that was noticeably larger than my last visit.
Hayden’s set was followed by a quick “tweener” from Victoria, BC’s Aidan Knight before the main draw for this friday night took the stage. Anticipation for Kathleen Edwards’ was obvious and the expansive festival grounds were, by this time, fairly well packed.
The band that took the stage at the Folk Festival had a slightly different shape than the one Edwards has been touring with: Jim Bryson was there as always, but Colin Cripps stepped into the place that Gord Tough has been occupying lately.
Fans of Edwards’ work are familiar with Cripps: the two were married for five years, and they toured together for seven. This was, as Edwards herself said, “…the first time in quite some time…” that they’d played together. Edwards has spoken honestly and openly in the past about the circumstances that led to a bitter break up, and her very fine last album Voyageur serves as an emotional chronical of those times. If you need a refresher, you could try this video of the singer speaking at Chicago’s Ideas Week. It’s heart breaking stuff.
The set opened with Asking For Flowers–a song that Edwards describes as the “…best song I’ve ever written” before moving on to moving on to the hockey themed I Make the Dough, You Get the Glory before Edwards finally talked to the crowd, describing the last few moments of the day, with the sun going down as “…a mother fuckin’ namasté Folk Fest moment.”
Nice way to get us started, Kathleen. Thanks for that.
The set moved on with Empty Threat, In State and Hockey Skates before Kathleen invited Hannah Georgas to the stage to sing backup on a fine rendition of Chameleon (but not until after she lobbied for Georgas’ most recent eponymously titled album to win the Polaris Music Prize, even though it didn’t make the shortlist.)
One of the set’s best moments came next when Edwards sang a duet with Cripps while the sun set behind the crowd. Both sported broad smiles the entire time, an obvious sign that whatever differences have kept them apart so long have been forgiven, if not forgotten. It was the kind of moment that Edwards is known for: honest and emotional.
Edwards’ set ended with the uptempo and keyboard drive Change the Sheets fading into the ocean air, and a happy crowd of sun soaked music lovers were told by the singer to “Get their dance on.”
That was a good message, too, since she was followed by local bollywood inspired artists Delhi II Dublin, who quickly got the crowd to their feet to end the opening day.
Friday night at the folk fest serves many purposes: it’s always a great show, and it sort of sets the tone for the rest of the weekend. This one was no exception with Edwards and her band sounding as good as she ever has and the weather cooperating nicely.
Saturday–day two–brings the first full day and the first day of the festival’s workshops. These will see Edwards playing (and leading) on smaller stages and joined by artists such as Justin Rutledge, Whitehorse, and Danny Michel. It’s a pretty impressive collection of talent, and the opportunity to see them play together is a unique one. Add Steve Earle as the evening’s main headliner and it may be the best single day of music to hit Vancouver in quite a while. You really don’t want to miss this one.