Vancouver Folk Music Festival Panorama
Originally uploaded by Astro Guy

Any event that starts off with a 400 meter race with birkenstocks, backpacks, blankets, and baby buggies, and ends with an african-beats dance party lit by the stars and a lantern procession is guaranteed to be a good time.

I kicked off the Vancouver Folk Festival on Saturday by taking part in the Birkenstock Shuffle – an impromptu race that begins when the gates open at 9:30 am and masses spill into the festival grounds. The goal: getting to the area in front of the main stage as fast as possible, so you can throw down a blanket or tarp and reserve your small area for the evening concert. I had to push a few old ladies out of my way, but I managed to secure a pretty sweet spot.

The festival this year was awesome. Great weather, great music, and lots of hippy dancing. It was a real scorcher, and I got a great sandal tan. Luckily, the the venue for the Folk Fest is right next to Jericho Beach, so we were able to take a break in the afternoon for a a quick plunge into the cool water of English Bay.

This year’s highlight was discovering the Fugitives – an East Van band with 2 spoken word poets, lead singer on accordion, banjo player, and violinist. I was really impressed with the lyrics, the catchy music, and their abundant energy. I’ve had the privilege of seeing one of the poets, Brendan McLeod, perform at a poetry slam at Café Deux Soleils before, and he rocked my socks. You can listen to their songs and download a few songs or watch a video on YouTube. And if you are lucky enough to be in Winnipeg in July, they will be performing at the Winnipeg Fringe Festival. Definitely check them out, I can almost guarantee an awesome performance. Barbara Adler, the other poet in the group, is also writing a Fringe blog for CBC.

So, I loved the Fugitives on their own, but the most spectacular performance I saw was when the Fugitives were on stage with Hawskley Workman and Ndidi Onukwulu. Everyone was jamming and improvising. Amazing stuff. I also got to see Brendan and Barbara do some spoken word, which was awesome. Other artists I liked: The Wailin’ Jennys (sweet, sweet voices), Geoff Berner (I love accordions), Utah Phillips (the man’s a folk legend and living encyclopedia), and Kutapira (high energy drumming).

More pics from Astro Guy, because I forgot my camera.