Wednesday, August 22

Summerfolk 2012 Review

As mentioned, last weekend we were at Summerfolk in Owen Sound, Ontario.  It's a weekend that goes by quickly, it's tiring but it's so good for the soul.  This is going to be a bit of a two part post.  I have more to say about The Mary Ellen Carter and visiting my niece on Monday, but it's a lot to cover in one post.

Mr. Lina and I go with another family, R (who spent New Years with us), his parents and usually one of his sisters and whatever friends she's brought with her.  His mom and I are are really good friends.  She was commenting to me this weekend that conversation just doesn't have limits between us.  I don't see them all that often during the year, R comes for respite with us about twice a year, plus Summerfolk, but when we do... there just aren't any walls.  The part I found interesting in her comment is that she didn't mean it one way as me spilling my guts out to her.  She's got a social work background, she has 4 kids and the oldest with Downs Syndrome.  I admire many of her parenting strategies even if her kids don't always.  I've found her to be a good sounding board when I'm making big decisions.  I'm glad to hear she feels the same way.

But Summerfolk is about music.  Lots and lots of music.

The more Mr. Lina and I host concerts and go to OCFF, the more musicians we know.  My first Summerfolk (I had not quite met Mr. Lina yet) I didn't know a single performer.  I remember R's family talking about who they wanted to see, what was new to them and looking at that paper and thinking, how do you know any of these people?  By contrast, this year I knew...
  • Coco Love Alcorn - hosted her in November
  • J.D. Edwards
  • Nathan Rogers (who with JD and Leonard Pedoski - I know his dad as the founder of Home Routes - forms Dry Bones)
  • Ennis
  • Suzy Vinnick
  • Al Simmons
  • The Crooked Brothers
  • Jory Nash
  • Plus a few other people like John Samosei who are just there every year.
And I had heard of...
  • Royal Wood
  • Lynn Miles
It's a big difference when you can walk around and recognize the artists off the stage as well as on.

We got a chance to talk to Coco while she was at the autograph table with Royal Wood.  We saw her daughter Ellie a couple of times around the festival, but it was never a good time to interrupt.  The first time it looked like it was lunch time and other times she was with someone I didn't know.  It was good to see her even from a distance.  She took her first steps in my house, Mr. Lina and I have a soft spot for her. 

I'm still absorbing the music from the weekend.  We saw so many great performances.  Like Coco and JD singing Hit the Road Jack as a duet with Al Simmons and Lynn Miles joining in the jam near the end, or Lemon Bucket Orkestra getting the whole amphitheatre on their feet and the 12 member band coming off the stage to dance with the crowd. 

Dry Bones was great, 3 fantastic musicians who look like it's three buddies having the time of their life.  Nathan Rogers is Stan Rogers son.  Those are some huge shoes to fill.  Stan is a legend in Canadian folk music, it's unbelievable how much material he wrote given that he died at 33.  We spent a fair bit of time talking about that this weekend, how Stan has probably become more of a legend because he died.  Nathan sounds a lot like his Dad and he did sing a few of Stan's songs like Northwest Passage (we were in the audience for this version in 2007) and he sang The Mary Ellen Carter for closing (which he also did in 2007).  It is great to hear, it gives me chills, but I think his own music suits him a little better.  When other people sing a Stan song (YouTube has around 350 hits for Barrett's Privateers, only a few are Stan), it's their own version of his song.  Nathan can't help but sound like he's trying to be his dad. I like a lot of his solo work, it was interesting to see him more playful with Dry Bones.  Sadly this clip from the Winnipeg Folk Festival starts part way through the song but they played it twice on the weekend and I loved it.  JD and Leonard are ham boning while Nathan is singing.  It's an old song to the days of prohibition where alcohol was banned but you could get your hands on just about anything else, I give you... Cocaine...

The evening shows take place in two spots, "Down by the Bay" (which is the beer tent), and the Stan Rogers Amphitheatre.  It's quite the process to get the seats and if I didn't have R's family to show us the ropes, I'm not sure we'd figure it out.  Early in the morning, people line up.  To the point that some people set up a little tent this year and slept at the front of the line.  Usually R's dad and Mr. Lina get up around 6:30 to go line up.  Around 8, they start handing out numbers.  Everyone goes for breakfast (maybe a shower), leaves their chairs lined up in order.  At 10 or 10:30, people line back up in their order and 40 people at a time are let into the grounds to set up their chairs (4 per person max).  This is what it looked like on Sunday all sped up to fit into 2 minutes.  There are a few red chairs about 3 rows up, I'm pretty sure that is where we were sitting.

Those chairs sit there all day.  People don't touch them.  There are volunteer "security" walking around during the day, but most of them are post-menopausal women.  These are no wanna-be police officers with attitude, it is people wearing fanny packs, tie die, or "mom jeans" under their official vest.  The closest thing to a weapon they might have is a wind up flashlight and hot flashes.  It's funny looking at all the empty chairs and tarps and blankets like it's a multicoloured theatre.

One last video for KLine.  I put this in her comments, but I have to mention it again.  She has bought a new bicycle, a lovely one well suited to her urban needs.  Coco is also a huge cycling fan.  She has not only one bicycle song, but three.  Three.  Can't have the bikes getting jealous, she might think she loves one more than the other.  She performed this one at our house and again at the Gazebo, it makes me giggle every time I hear her sing it, she has an amusing anecdote to the song midway through.  KLine, this is for you.


  1. I'm not going to pretend I have any idea about that which you are speaking, but it sounded like you had a good time, and that's what matters. :-)


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