Ottawa Folk Festival. It kicks off on Friday evening, August 13, and continues all day and evening on Saturday and Sunday. As I mentioned a year ago, the folk festival has long been my favourite Ottawa festival. Years before I actually started working in Ottawa in 2007, I was making an annual trip to the nation’s capital for the Ottawa Folk Festival.
This is a year of great change for the Ottawa Folk Festival. Chris White, the founding artistic director stepped down last fall after 16 years at the helm. The new artistic director is Dylan Griffith, who came to the Ottawa Folk Festival after four years directing the Dawson City Music Festival in the Yukon.
It seems to be a year of generational change for the festival. Despite the presence of certain older artists, most notably the legendary Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, there is a greater emphasis on younger artists or on artists like Arrested Development, who are drawn from musical genres more likely to appeal to a younger demographic than the traditional folk festival audience.
This is not to say that there’s a lack of the kind of artists that have long been associated with folk festivals. Among them are the Old Sod Band, an instrumental band that includes Ann Downey and Ian Robb of Finest Kind; the Foggy Hogtown Boys, probably Ontario’s finest bluegrass band; Lynn Miles, a world class singer-songwriter from Ottawa who did an amazing set at the festival a few years ago just before headliner Emmylou Harris; and such other notable Canadian singer-songwriters as Jenny Whiteley, Chris MacLean, Jon Brooks and Kim Beggs.
Among the other artists I’m looking forward to hearing are Calexico, the southwestern atmospheric band; country rocker Carolyn Mark; and Ladies of the Canyon, a Montreal trio that I introduced at the Festival Folk sur le canal in Montreal in 2009.
daytime schedule has now been posted and there are a bunch of workshop sessions that I’m really looking forward to.
Pictured: (Left) Mike Regenstreif, Nora Guthrie, Kris Kristifferson and Jimmy LaFave at the 2007 Ottawa Folk Festival. (Right) Ramblin' Jack Elliott and Mike Regenstreif at the 2006 Pop Montreal Festival.