It comes but once a year…

16 Jul

For those readers who are interested in learning more about the Vancouver Folk Music Festival in general and reading more about my experiences at the 2012 Folk Festival in particular, please see the longer post on the Essays page… Follow the link below for a shorter review of the wonderful music I heard over the weekend 🙂

For a lot of Vancouverites, The Vancouver Folk Music Festival is better than Christmas. For starters, the weather is (usually) better and the days are oh so much longer. But the main reason the folks gather in Jericho Beach Park each July is for the music.

The Vancouver Folk Music Festival is legendary and the 35th annual festival lived up to the reputation. I don’t even know where to start, it was such an epic weekend…


Musical Highlights from the 35th Annual Vancouver Folk Music Festival

Of the shows I saw this weekend at Jericho Beach Park, these were huge highlights for me and, if I do say so myself, you should check them out:

Established Artists Who Delivered

  1. The Head and the Heart
    This newish band from Seattle has a bright sound, dynamic melodies, and amazing harmonies. I couldn’t agree more with their website: “The strength of Josiah, Jon and Charity’s vocal harmonies on the album makes it feel like these three were born to pour their voices together, as the band’s songs revel in jaunty bass lines with ebullient handclaps peppering the best moments…this is an album for people who unabashedly sing and drum along on the steering wheel.” I am one proudly one of those people. Though she doesn’t sing on all the tracks, Charity’s solos on Saturday night were heart-stoppingly good.

  3. Hey Rosetta
    A bunch of good Canadian kids from St. John’s with heaps of musical talent and a brilliant poet for a songwriter. With enough band members to comprise a small orchestra, their sound is beautifully layered. They penned the most memorable anthem from the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games, “Red Heart,” but their catalogue is full of gems. I try not to miss a show when they come to town.

  5. Dan Mangan
    Vancouver’s own delivered once again at the VFMF, this time closing the main stage on Friday night and leading a couple workshops on Saturday and Sunday. With his gravelly voice, strong lyrics, and adorable beard, (not to mention the nine-piece band that backs him up) he’s a home-town favourite, for sure.


Delightful New Discoveries

  1. Good for Grapes
    If you love the full, sweeping sound of Mumford and Sons, but always wished there was a daughter in the bunch, you’ll thoroughly enjoy this Vancouver band. These boys (and one girl) are young, and it shows in their boundless energy on stage. Percussion radiates from their bones and the crowd couldn’t resist the beat. Apparently, and not surprisingly, their star is rising fast, so get out to see them at their next local show.

  3. Dala
    This duo from Ontario met in a high school music class and started singing together in 2002. Theirs are another pair of voices that were just meant to be together. Beautiful harmonies, catchy piano riffs, sweet lyrics, and funny banter on stage made for a lovely concert in the park on Sunday afternoon.

  5. Bombolessé
    When I heard the words “Brazillian samba,” I made a note in my program and made sure I was back at Stage 3 for Bombolessé’s evening concert on Saturday night. Their intense energy and irresistible rhythm tumbled off the stage and, as their website advertises, they got the “dancers thinking and thinkers dancing,” while singing in French, Portuguese, Spanish and Creole and busting a move on stage.


Honourable Mentions

In no particular order… Man, the two coasts sure produce some amazing music.

  1. River City Extension (NJ)
  2. The Barr Brothers (QC/RI)
  3. Amelia Curran (NF)
  4. e.s.l. (BC)
  5. The Cave Singers (WA)
  6. The Once (NF)
  7. Wake Owl (BC)
  8. Royal Wood (ON)
  9. Veda Hille (BC)


And then the Lantern Parade…

At the end of each evening, a procession of lanterns floats gracefully around the park during the last performance before guiding the folks out the gates. After a touching finale on Sunday, led by Vancouver’s own exceptionally talented Veda Hille and her Memory Choir, the Folk Fest wrapped up for another year. We enjoyed a lot of sun, endured a little rain, and had our socks knocked off by incredible musicians from around the world.

Lantern Parade

Lantern Parade

I hope you’ll join me and the rest of the folks down at Jericho Beach next year 🙂



© 2013 C Chisholm Communications.
All rights reserved.

One Response to “It comes but once a year…”

  1. Brian C July 18, 2012 at 2:32 pm #

    Your passion for the traditions, community and music of the festival comes through loud and clear in this writing.

    XXX Dad

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