FolkFest Sessions: One Big Old Goofy World!


Maybe the best thing (and definitely my favourite thing) about folk festivals are the workshops. This is when two or more artists share the stage and perform together. These are great because the artists usually start out playing their separate songs, but by the end of the session, they are almost always playing together. Only at workshops like these would you finds an American folk-rock band on the same stage as two throat singers from Nunavut and an Arabic-Spanish musician from the UK. 

These workshops began yesterday afternoon with one called “Big Old Goofy World” on stage 6. Sharing the stage was Tom Russell, Calexico, Natacha Atlas and Tanya Tagaq. This workshop epitomized the whole spirit of the folk fest and by the end everyone was playing together even though many of them had never met each other before!

Joey Burns, lead singer of the Tucson, Arizona band Calexico is great in these workshops. I think that he has even said that they are his favourite part of folk festivals! Two years ago I saw Calexico playing a workshop with The Weakerthans at the Winnipeg FolkFest. That performance was equally as amazing as the workshop yesterday afternoon mainly due to Burns’ ability to muck in with other musicians and create a new sound. 

Going into the “Big Old Goofy World” session, I was unsure of how it would work with throat singers Tanya Tagaq and her cousin Celina Kalluk. When they were playing alone it was amazing, it was so unlike anything that I had ever heard before! What was really incredible was how they incorporated throat singing into the songs that other musicians were performing. I was surprised by how great Arabic music sounded with a little bit of Inuit throat singing thrown in! 

What’s great about folk festivals is that if you’re not looking forward to a particular artist going into the event, you are still bound to like the music. Sometimes coming out of the festival you’ll even have a new favourite musician! I think that this is all thanks to workshops like this one. Often this is also where the performer’s personality comes out most, which might just make you enjoy their music even more! 

See you on the hill!


more in Music Review     |     posted Aug 7th, 2010 at 1:21pm     

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