Flightless Bird - Winnipeg Folk Festival (Friday)

>> Sunday, 12 July 2009

Before heading to Folk Fest on Friday afternoon, I made a crucial error: I switched from jeans to shorts.

More on this later.

We (me and a small crew) arrived at the bustling grounds round 3 and immediately toured the heavily populated area. Delicious food was eaten (samosas and pad thai and kettle popcorn!), beers were guzzled in the designated alcohol tents, and wet mud clung to my white shoes (clothing mistake #2). Regardless, it was all pretty fantastic.

I caught a few songs from such small stages acts as Mark Berube, but I was feeling itinerant so I wandered around and soaked up the atmosphere before settling in at the main stage.

First up: Josh Ritter. Arguably, the most charming and veritably happy singer-songwriter in the biz today, Ritter beamed from ear-to-ear the entire time, clearly pleased to be playing music for such a deep, responsive crowd. His 50 minute or so timeslot, which included a riveting solo performance of “Girl in the War”, teemed with life and was a fine way to kick off the main stage festivities. Ritter and his boys should really be given the award for “Most Elegantly Dressed Musicians” at Folk Fest ’09.

It was about this time that I started wishing for pants. The mercury plunged, the sun disappeared behind a veil of clouds, and the wind increased.

Caught Gentleman Reg on a small stage prior to Iron & Wine, and I could easily see and hear why and how he’s garnering the acclaim he has so far this year. His stuff was pretty lively and pretty poppy (folksy? not too much). Watched him for maybe half an hour then worked my way back in time for Iron & Wine, the artist I wanted to see most.

Armed with only an acoustic guitar, a soothing voice, and a delightfully unkempt beard, Sam Beam’s hour long set was essentially a cross section of his entire catalogue. Tunes from all three of his full lengths were played as was a soundtrack cut, material from his EPs, and songs from his collaborative effort with Calexico. A tasteful and varied set list. Sure it would’ve been great to see him backed by a full band, but his artful acoustic renderings were still mightily spectacular (see end of post for set list). I was enchanted the entire time.

By the time the diva of the indie world manifested on stage (11ish), the earlier incipient chill was full on, and my teeth started chattering involuntarily. Neko Case, sensibly clad in a hoodie, was six kinds of brilliant. Her golden larnyx projected beautifully across the festival grounds as she propelled through material that spanned several albums. Sadly, my near-frozen party - who at this point were draped in blankets and borrowed sweaters - and I decided to leave before we all died of hypothermia. Fortunately, we could still hear her booming pipes as we took part in the funeral-procession-slow march out of the grounds, and only missed three songs or so.

Next year, I’m gonna bring pants.


Iron & Wine Set List

1. Trapeze Singer
2. Woman King
3. Naked As We Came
4. Pagan Angel And A Borrowed Car
5. Upwards Over The Mountain
6. History Of Lovers
7. Fever Dream
8. Lion’s Mane
9. He Lays In The Reins
10. Untitled New Song
11. Jezebel
12. Sodom South Georgia
13. Flightless Bird, American Mouth

Infinite Playlist: Iron & Wine - The Creek Drank The Cradle


d-clang 12 July 2009 at 22:11  

It's too bad you missed Hey Rosetta!

Anonymous,  12 July 2009 at 23:45  

So you were one of the many first timers that came on Friday to see Iron and Wine.
You should really consider spending the whole weekend at folk fest for the real festival experience.
Okkervil River and Deep Dark Woods were my highlights along with Josh Ritter. I was a bit disappointed with Iron and Wine, I'm not even sure why though.

Nelson,  13 July 2009 at 15:37  

I mostly agree with above.

If you want enhance your cred as a Winnipeg music critic in my books you must take in the Winnipeg Folk Festival in it's entirety.

This year was much colder than ever before and I also wasn't able to make it to the end of Neko.

Thanks for the review!

Sarah,  13 July 2009 at 16:02  

I sadly had to leave before Neko too...so disappointing, but my friends and I were just too freezing! I caught her at a workshop the next day though, and she sounded great.

Okkervil and Josh Ritter were everything I had hoped they would be :)

The whole festival experience was amazing and so much fun! It was my first time, but I am officially converted to festival devotee - I'm never missing it again!

Jeope 14 July 2009 at 16:20  

Hands down the best lineup in my 16 years of going. Also the best weather. Fabulous. Josh Ritter's mainstage show and Patrick Watson's Sunday night concert were personal highlights.

Anonymous,  14 July 2009 at 21:31  

I'm glad you enjoyed your first visit to the WFF.

That said, you really should check out the entire weekend. While I enjoy the fellowship that the mainstage invites, the best music (in my opinion) happens on the smaller stages throughout the day, usually by people I've never heard of until the lineup is released. I heard some absolutely fantastic combinations this year...

Music aside, there is also something deeply satisfying about sharing the FF with thousands of people for 4 or 5 days, year after year.

If you're in Winnipeg and you're into music, you really just need to be there.

Anonymous,  15 July 2009 at 21:55  

good post anon.

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