Folk Fest tickets moving fast
The Canmore Folk Music Festival is still over a month away, but with two Canadian folk icons headlining the 35th anniversary of the festival, excitement is already growing.
Festival artistic director Sue Panning said ticket sales are going well, better than previous year’s sales.
The festival, scheduled for Aug. 4–6 at Canmore’s Centennial Park, is Alberta’s longest-running folk music festival.
“We have two Canadian icons, Bruce Cockburn in his fourth decade of making music and its an exclusive Alberta show, and of course (we have) the legendary Ian Tyson,” said Panning said, adding one of the festival’s finale songs – Four Strong Winds – is Tyson’s song.
“Unfortunately he’s not going to be there to sing it, but he’ll be there Sunday night and is doing a workshop Monday. But having those two is just fantastic is for the 35th year.”
Bringing both Cockburn and Tyson on board to celebrate the festival’s 35th anniversary was a purposeful choice, Panning said, and the result is, ticket sales are going faster than any other year in the festival’s history.
Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the Folk Fest has a great reputation.
“Canmore has a got a reputation for treating people really well, it’s a nice atmosphere and the location, people can’t believe they’re playing in this beautiful setting,” Panning said.
Some of those people who get to participate this year in this beautiful setting include Kim Churchill, a young musician from Australia, whose skills on guitar and harmonica are nothing short of amazing.
“He’s an amazing guitar player, he’s a powerful harmonica player and he’s got a really soulful voice and I think people are going to be really jazzed by him,” Panning said.
Along with slots during the festival, Churchill is also slated to play the Friday night street party, a free event on Aug. 3 outside the Canmore Civic Centre.
Other great additions to this year’s festival include Jack Semple, a guitar virtuoso who Panning said will leave festival goers “speechless”; the master-musicians of the Mairtin O’Connor Trio, best-of-the-best of Irish traditional bands and for the Saturday and Sunday night closing acts, Current Swell and Juno-award-winning Elage Diouf, a Montreal-based band originally from Senegal.
Both Current Swell, a B.C. band that sits at the forefront of surf-rock or new roots and Elage Diouf are high-energy bands perfect for the dancing experiment the festival is planning to try out for this year.
“We’re trying something new,” Panning said.
Last year, during Delhi to Dublin, Panning said the dance crowd overflowed into the main seating area in front of the stage, creating some problems for festival organizers and audience members sitting near the front.
“We had a few people write in negatively about the dancing but the majority of people either wrote in or talked to me and said it was wonderful and it brought a really nice energy to the festival and wasn’t it great, imagine dancing at a festival.”
For this festival, organizers are creating a transition zone that will be used for tarp seating right up to the last acts Saturday and Sunday evenings.
“When people come Saturday and Sunday, we’re going to tell them that in this area, if you put your tarps here you reserve that spot until the last act. At that point, we’re going to take a bit of time to do the set change and get everybody to get up and gather their tarps and make some room for other people to join in,” Panning said.
“The biggest thing last year was that it was unexpected. People weren’t expecting people to come because it was something new. We weren’t expecting it to happen that way either so we’re responding to it, so if we educate people and they know what to expect we’re not going to have any conflicts.”
Also new for this year, festival-goes can buy festival chairs and T-shirts, which features a dancing bison, and are available online at the festival website. Pre-paid goods can then be picked up at the grounds during the festival.
The festival will also feature a greater connection to community groups, including Bison Belong, Hearts and Hands Foundation, Bow Valley Food Bank and a scholarship fund for local high school students looking to go on and become musicians.
“We’re just trying to extend the arms into the community,” Panning said.
Tickets are available for purchase through the festival’s website, at Tin Box and Stonewaters Home Elements in Cannmore and at the Phone Store in Banff.
Volunteers, which are still needed, can register through the website as well.
Registration for the youth songwriting workshop on the afternoon of Aug. 4 from 1-4 p.m. is available by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
The festival website can be found at www.canmorefolkfestival.com
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