If the mainstage acts attract people to the festival, the weekend workshops bring them back. The concept? Throw several artists--connected by often ambiguous themes--on stage and see what happens.
The results vary considerably, with the rigid turn-taking that was "Not Your Grandmother's Folk," to the sometimes full-out jam that became of "Bringing in the News From Nowhere." Artists share music and stories, trade playful jabs and offer their talent to their peers. Workshops are the heart of the festival, accenting and augmenting the climax of the mainstage.
And what a climax.
Canadian songstress Kathleen Edwards, the visually stimulating "global dance" outfit Horace X, and the legendary and energetic Ani DiFranco all hit their mark. They successfully energized the crowd (even to the point of dance on the main field--a major Folk Fest faux pas). DiFranco's finale, a poem mixed with political commentary and seemingly always welcome anti-Americanism, left the audience largely breathless and in awe.
On Saturday, the festival truly shone.