Always a memorable and enjoyable event, Mission is one of our festival highlights every year. There's an exciting line-up featuring Sylvia Tyson (above), Black Umfolosi, Mongolian sensations Haya (who received the first standing ovation of the year at the CBC Nooner concert series on Tuesday), the brilliant Polish stringband Volosi, Galician singers Ialma, pipers Ross Ainslie & Jarlath Henderson, marvellous fiddlers Pierre Schryer (Canada), Kristian Bugge (Denmark) and Ruthie Dornfeld (USA), local songwriting combo The Lion The Bear & The Fox (a huge surprise hit last year), Bellingham's country blues / old time duo The Gallus Brothers, and much more!
Also on the bill is the latest Rogue Folk recruit - Lydia Hol (pictured above.) She's not only our new Admin Assistant, she's also a remarkable songwriter. Don't miss her Saturday morning workshop and Sunday evening main stage set - two entirely different presentations: one solo, and one with a band.
If you bought advance tickets through The Rogue, you can pick them up at the festival gate from Friday afternoon. There are still weekend passes and camping spots available at the gate, too. Mission is just 80km east of Vancouver on Highway 7 and it's one of the cosiest and friendliest musical celebrations you could wish for! With the best bathrooms in any Canadian festival, great food on site and a nice little bistro from which you can witness the main stage shows. Hope to see you there! (I'll be MC-ing the Main Stage on Saturday evening.)
STOP PRESS: We just got back from the opening gala concert. Haya (above) are incredible! What a voice Diaqing Tana possesses! Very atmospheric music and she is such an expressive mover about the stage. Black Umfolosi were charming and amusing and their harmonies are exquisite. Speaking of harmonies, how about those Ialma women? Four wonderful voices with guitar and accordion accompaniment. We were too late to catch Ross and Jarlath (with Winnipeg's Jordan McConnell on guitar) but we already know that they are brilliant pipers. So come on down to Mission and catch the wave of music that's bouncing back and forth across the Fraser to Mt. Baker. It's all too beautiful ....
Our annual feast of Canadian music heralding the Celebration of Light fireworks kicks off this Saturday on The Rogue Stage at Sunset Beach. Come and enjoy the new Beer Garden, and listen to some fine music by Sadie Campbell, Tonye Aganaba, The Brothers Landreth (sensational harmonies; saw them at Island Musicfest the other week!), Ben Rogers, and Harry Manx (pictured above - in a rare solo show). The music starts at 2pm and continues to 7pm this Saturday, July 25th. It's FREE. Thanks to our good friends LG104.3fm, where you can hear some very fine music on the Blues Lounge show every night except Saturday from 9pm to midnight.
Next Wednesday July 30th we have Skye Wallace, Dawn Pemberton, Harpoonist & the Axe Murderer, Steve Dawson, and Colin Linden. We're very chuffed top be able to bring you this line-up! This show also runs from 2pm to 7pm. Then on Saturday August 1st we have Paul Pigat, Wes Mackey, Chin Injeti, Colleen Rennison (above), and Daniel Wesley. Look for The Rogue tent near the stage on these two days. We'll have some swag (fridge magnets, fans, etc.) and lots of info. about our upcoming shows.
3. Oysterband, Thursday August 13th 8pm at St. James Hall (3214 West 10th Avenue)
Oysterband first appeared in Vancouver at the folk festival in 1987. The next day they played their first ever full-length North American concert at The Rogue (in The Savoy night club in Gastown, with Spirit of the West unveiling their expanded line-up as openers.) We've brought them in 8 times since, most recently in 2012. Back in 1992 they were joined by English singer June Tabor, with whom they had just recorded an amazing folk rock album Freedom & Rain. The follow up to that, Ragged Kingdom, was released in 2011 and won heaps of awards. Meanwhile the band continued - and continues - to record ground-breaking albums of what can only be pigeon-holed as "Anglo-Celtic Folk / Rock", although this doesn't really do justice to their versatility, instrumental dexterity, compositional and arranging skills, and the impassioned vocals of John Jones. The latest CD, Diamonds On The Water, is an immensely tuneful and moving set of songs. We can't wait to see the new line-up of the band, with founders Jones (vocals, melodeon), Ian Telfer (fiddle) and Alan Prosser (guitar) joined by drummer Dil Davies, new bass player Al Scott and new cellist Adrian Oxaal. Tickets are available at Highlife Records, Prussin Music, Red Cat Records, Rufus' Guitar Shop and online.
4. Finbar Furey, Saturday August 15th 8pm at St. James Hall (3214 West 10th Avenue)
This show is a rare treat! Irish piper and singer Finbar Furey was last in town with The Furey Brothers and Davey Arthur at The Cultch around 20 years ago. Maybe more. What I do recall from that show is his demonstration of all the component parts of the uilleann pipes. What a complex and wondrous instrument that is! Sometimes called a cross between a brassiere, a whoopee cushion and a plumber's repair kit, the uilleann (or elbow) pipes make beautiful music. There is nothing so moving as a slow air played on these pipes, and, in the hands of a skilled piper like Mr. Furey, reels and jigs and hornpipes and even waltzes flow melifluously and carry the listener into a magical green world!
Finbar's list of accomplishments is lengthy, unique and remarkable! From his early days playing trad. and contemporary folk music in his native Dublin, to inventing the low whistle - which he gave to Overton to develop; now just about every Celtic band has an Overton whistle - to touring and recording with his brothers, with a string of hit records like Eric Bogle's Green Fields Of France (No Man's Land) and Sweet 16 and the instrumental The Lonesome Boatman. He is also an actor (Gangs of New York is just one of his movie credits) and storyteller. Far from resting on his laurels, Finbar continues to make great music, with a six-night run of sold-out shows in Dublin earlier this year and a stunning new instrumental CD, The Slender Promise. His previous CD, Colours (2012) gave him his first Irish Number One song in over 30 years, for The Last Great Love Song.
Finbar is coming to Vancouver on a special short tour with a trio. We are indebted to Vancouver Country Dance for switching the date of their August dance to the Friday in order to accommodate us on the 15th - the only night Finbar could play here.
Tickets are available at Highlife Records, Prussin Music, Red Cat Records, Rufus' Guitar Shop and online.
5. VFMF notes
That was one scorching hot weekend, wasn't it? It all kicked off with the incredible workshop on Stage 2 pn Friday afternoon with Richard Thompson, Mary Gauthier, Lindi Ortega and Kiwi singer Marlin Williams (the surprise 'hit" of the weekend.)
Richard T's amazing solo set on main stage - surrounded by 360 degrees of red clouds at sunset - was another memorable set (although I can't understand why he didn't sing Sunset Song at the end!) Pokey LaFarge lost his voice after his amazing set on Stage 3 on Friday. I'm afraid I can't figure out why he and his superb band were "relegated" to that stage while the main stage was presenting some rather drab, second-rate rock and roll and average songwriting, but what do I know about music and presentation? The Melbourne Ska Orchestra were fun, but I had a very early start the next day so couldn't stay till the end.
On Saturday at 7:30am I was at the CITR booth for our live transmission. It's hard to find musicians up and about on a Saturday morning at the best of times, even at a festival which starts at 10am! I had a trusty playlist available on the iPad and was ready for live interviews should anyone swing by. Sure enough, along came Rory McLeod, and we had a fine chat before he had to depart for a workshop. Then we discovered that the router had turned itself off and the interview was neither broadcast nor recorded! After that it was mostly plain-sailing, with Val Cormier (Folk Oasis on CiTR) joining me to interview Mama Kin, and Adam, the guy who plants pianos around BC for anyone to play. (There was one at Jericho Beach Park, apparently. Did anyone notice it being played?) As the sun crept around and warmed our booth it also shut down the iPad which can't run at extreme temperatures. Yikes! We had no music and the screen was dark. I had a backup playlist on my iPhone so was able to switch over after not too terribly long a pause. I interviewed Ewan and James from Breabach and the delightful Scarlett Jane, and all too soon the show was over. By this time it was really hot and I was exhausted. I had a nap at our tent and just couldn't face the heat. I tried to listen to Adam Cohen, but his set was delayed when the digital files at the sound board were accidentally erased and there was apparently no backup! When he finally did play it seemed to me he was trying way too hard not to sound like his esteemed father, but he didn't sound like anything special at all.
I'm With Her were fabulous, though. They decided to play acoustic without a backing band in order to simplify the sound changeovers after the earlier technical problems. This was an even bigger treat! Aoife O'Donovan (above), Sarah Jarosz and Sara Watkins made a blissful sound!
Marlin Williams did his "short set" (not called a "tweener" any more) and then came Basia Bulat, who was quite good, but failed to hold my attention for the whole set. I left in a hurry when Trampled By Turtles failed to impress (trampled by tedium, someone said. Aptly. Having seen Leftover Salmon, another Bluegrass Jam Band, playing such a brilliant set at Island Musicfest the previous week, TBT sounded very ordinary by comparison.)
On Sunday my musical explorations were again severely limited by the heat. I caught some songs by the lovely Les Poules a Colin on Stage 3 and thoroughly enjoyed the concert set by Sam Lee & Friends on Stage 2 (above). Really interesting versions of trad songs from Britain, some collected by Sam himself from gypsy singers. He's a real breath of fresh air on the folk scene, I reckon. In the afternoon I did manage a short walk, with my umbrella valiantly trying to shield me from the sun. Stage 5 with Mary Gauthier and the brilliant Italian fiddle / viola player Michele Gazich was fine, but the heat was unbearable. I ventured down to Stage 6 to hear Hungarian band Sondorgo with the Downhill Strugglers (who played at The Rogue a few years ago as The Dustbusters) and Sam Lee & Friends. I've never seen so few people at Stage 6! What a pity. There was one lovely moment when Sondorgo were playing a klezmer-style tune and Sam Lee started singing. Then I went to Stage 4 for some fine songs by Scarlett Jane and suddenly it was time to catch the incredible Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni ba on main stage. What a fabulous set!
I almost forgot about the heat; the music was just so compelling and exciting. Polyrhythmic magic from Mali with those ringing strings, thumping drums (above) and the soaring vocals of Amy Sacko. I was so happy, but when they stopped I retreated to the beer tent backstage and had a delicious meal of mushroom stroganoff and tried - not very successfully - to control my dislike of the music of Lucius and Phosphorescent.
At the end of the evening Angelique Kidjo played a magical set of songs and inspirational messages to cheer me up again, and then came the sunset and the lanterns and a rather messy finale but it didn't matter. I wish I could have heard more music, but it was just too hot. In Australia, where they get a lot more sun, all festival stages are in huge tents - with the sides left off. We might have to start thinking about such staging here if the climate keeps changing so hotly!
Photos from the Vancouver Folk Festival by Steve Edge, except the DJ booth, which was taken by Erica Dolman of CiTR - using my iPhone!
6. Radio Waves
I'll be back in the new studio at CiTR this Saturday to present The Edge On Folk. I'll have a look back at Jericho and Courtenay and a look ahead to Mission and Shorefest and Edmonton, and spin some new music and some old favourites by the likes of Sondorgo, Sam Lee, Steeleye Span, Oysterband, Ialma, Scarlett Jane, I'm With Her, Shooglenifty, Ross & Jarlath, Souad Massi, Finbar Furey, Richard Thompson, Colin Linden, Moxie, The Hillbenders, Colleen Rennison, Dawn Pemberton and more! I hope you can join me, whether from your campsite in Mission or in the comforts of home - or maybe later on via podcast. The show runs from 8am to noon on CiTR fm 101.9 in Vancouver - and sometimes as far east as Mission - and online on www.citr.ca
Radio Rogue is on the air 24/7 on our website too. Have a great weekend!! Hope to see you at Mission and / or Shorefest, and that you are able to tune in to my radio show!