The fiddler on the mainstage

By Nicole Kobie

Folk Fest finished the weekend in fine fashion. Everywhere from mainstage, to workshops and to off-stage events, you could see people in facepaint, wearing long-dresses and walking without shoes. It was the perfect atmosphere for a folk music festival.

Though most people stayed in their newly-bought folk fest folding chairs during the performances, some got up to dance to various rhythms amidst the shale surrounding the stage. Others found themselves busy in the beer gardens. Though out of sight from other stages, all mainstage performers were still within hearing range.

The workshops at the fest were, as usual, nothing more than simple jam sessions between some strangely matched musicians. However, that’s not a complaint. Anyone who passed over watching half of Big Sugar jam with Tom Cochrane and Garnet Rogers had the pleasure of witnessing the Rheostatics, Wimme and folk-star Carolyn Mark on a single stage. In fact, it was hard not to wander from stage to stage during the day for fear of missing something good.

The Sunday mainstage events were all different, but all worth watching. Even if he’s not exactly folk material, Tom Cochrane pleased classic rock fans with his noon hour acoustic set.

Later, Ashley MacIsaac started the mainstage evening with his uncontrollable fiddling, followed by a change of pace from Finland’s Wimme. Performing a traditional style of singing called "yoik," Wimme at first confused many members of the audience. Strangely, when the warbling chant evolved into a strange barking sound, the confused smiles changed into pure enthusiasm, invoking some of the loudest audience response all day.

Next up were Big Sugar’s Gordie Johnson and Kelly Hoppe, who wandered between re-arranged Sugar songs and random jamming. Fans of the band surely missed the presence of the other members–Big Sugar is, after all, known for being loud. Nonetheless, this tempered version of the band meshed perfectly with the festival’s sound and volume. Next, Kathy Mattea displayed her wide musical backgrounds, ranging from country to celtic. Buckwheat Zydeco’s musical blend and crazy hair ended the night, and a great weekend.

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