Folks Fest: Festival-Spirit-Goddess Shining Down
The first time I attended Folks Fest was the year of Soaks Fest. It was not the most fun time I have ever had. (Not the kind of thing you would expect a blog post trying to win some free tickets and such to admit to.) I remember Soaks Fest for sitting in my car drying my wet clothes, wearing a rain suit and using a tarp to cover our foursome during Dar Williams, it did have some redeeming moments: Sunday’s sunshine made for a lovely day; Melissa Ferrick playing “Win ‘Em Over” to a whole bunch of women screaming on the side of the stage; and hearing Ellis play the Wildflower Pavillion to a packed crowd were among my favorite memories.
I swore I would not be back.
When the next year rolled around I heard Gillian Welch was playing Sunday night and was persuaded to try again. I am so glad I did. It definitely makes the top five days of my life!!! (Quite the extreme from the year before). Some sort of festival-spirit-goddess was shining down on us that day because everything just worked out perfectly. From the shuttle ride arriving just in time to pick us up and drop us at the grounds, to receiving a great line number someone was giving away, to acquiring sparkly yellow wristbands, everything just fell into place.
After walking around, we went for a lovely foot-dangle into the river/creek, glazing sun overhead. Eventually, we made it to the front stage. My goodness, although Gillian was the draw, Brett Dennen played an amazing set. I have never been so entertained by a performer, his energy level, and inspiring anti-racist, anti-sexist, anti-homophobic lyrics made me get up and shake it multiple times. I find performances like this very meaningful in context of a place like this, to demonstrate a commitment not only to the environment, but social equality also. There is so much interconnection between the two.
When Gillian Welch played “Long Black Veil,” chills ran up and down my spine; I am forever haunted by this traditional tune. Since then, I have written several creative pieces based off this one performance.
One thing I really appreciate about Planet Bluegrass is their practice to booking female performers, which not all festivals seem to care about. While I also value their dedication to sustainability, it is the balance of male/female performers that really draws me back. Bringing equity to the stage is important! Now if we could just attract a few more performers/audience members of color!!
I am so excited to attend again, witness the presence of John Prine, and experience Ani Difranco’s energy in Lyons. Cannot wait!