By David Kenney
Pure drool. Friday’s set was jam-packed with three headliners and one giddy, witty emcee. Fifties style country bumpkin and quick-witted Carolyn Mark hosted, and made in-between band banter more than just filler.
Fresh out of their van from Vancouver, The Be Good Tanyas’ breezy bluegrass pop entertained a larger folk fest crowd than Thursday. The Tanyas’ three layers of harmony was as refreshing as mountain spring water, as were their songs of dogs and coffee fiends.
However, The Cowboy Junkies seemed oddly misplaced with vocalist Margo Timmins. The calm singer seemed interested in her tea, but left the performer out her performance.
Not surprisingly, The Tragically Hip’s genius/madman Gord Downie was all personality. Each song was preceded with typical Downie spunk, with weirdisms overflowing from every word. Backed by The Dinner is Ruined and Julie Doiron, Downie’s repertoire was ragtime, waltzish and all quirky tonk. Definitely a side project, but in no way a side dish to the Hip’s meat.
Lastly, British political folkie Billy Bragg performed solo with a huge presence. Commenting on unions, G-8, the WTO and love, Bragg’s ideas seemed perfect for folk fest, even in conservative Calgary. His new song, "St. Monday’s Day," called for the end of Monday workdays which gelled well with the crowd. Bragg classic "There is Power in a Union" and Bragg/Woody Guthrie collaboration "Way Over Yonder in the Minor Key" both showed Bragg’s stunning ability to balance the political and the poignant.