Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Ottawa Folk Festival line-up announced

The line-up for the first OttawaFolk Festival put together by Bluesfest director Mark Monahan has been announced. Looking at the schedule, which stretches across four days from Thursday, August 25 to Sunday, August 28, it kind of looks more like a Bluesfest schedule than a traditional folk festival with artists booked to do lengthy concert sets on multiple stages Thursday and Friday evenings and all day and evening on Saturday and Sunday.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m of the opinion that folk festival workshops are the heart and soul of the folk festival experience. The Ottawa Folk Festival workshops are being curated by Arthur McGregor of the Ottawa Folk Festival and will be announced in the coming weeks. The schedule grid shows two workshop stages to be filled in. I'm really looking forward to seeing how the workshop schedule falls into place.

The full list of artists and the concert schedule can be found on the Ottawa Folk Festival website, but some of the artists I’m most looking forward to seeing include the Levon Helm Band (I’ll be posting a review of Levon’s great new live album, Ramble at the Ryman, in the next week or so); Hayes Carll, a very fine singer-songwriter from Texas; Justin Townes Earle, the son of Steve Earle (who will also be at the festival), who has released three excellent albums over the past few years (my review of his latest, Harlem River Blues, is at this link); and Vance Gilbert, a terrific singer and very sophisticated songwriter.

Local favourites on the schedule include Lynn Miles (my review of Lynn’s latest, Fall for Beauty, is at this link) and Lynne Hanson.

Among the artists I’ve never seen before that I want to see are the David Wax Musuem, a kind of folk-rock-Mexican-roots band from Boston; Peter Himmelman, an interesting songwriter; and Jayme Stone, an explorer of the five-string banjo.

I’ve heard good things about the new festival site at Hog’s Back Park so I’m looking forward to hearing some good music there.

I do have some reservations about the line-up. There aren’t many artists on the list who play much traditional music, or even traditionally-oriented music. There should always be lots of room for real folk music at a folk festival.

--Mike Regenstreif

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