When a musician tells you they’ve played the festival circuit for 30 years and states Canmore Folk Music Festival is one of the best they’ve attended, you know it comes down to more than location and venue.
Bob Hamilton, who played with John Wort Hannam during Sunday’s (July 31) ‘There’s A Story In That’ workshop on the festival’s second stage, has been to Canmore a few times, but not the festival, and had heard lots of good things.
“I was touring with John and was in,” Hamilton said on playing this year’s festival. “I’ve played workshops and folk festivals for 30 years and it’s great, because sharing is what’s important. You get to have conversations and interact with other musicians and people pick up the energy they create too, I think – the freshness of it all. I just hope to make some new friends, have a good time and share some good music.”
Local Canmorite Justin Becker was on hand volunteering his audio and mixing production skills at the second stage.
“I’m having a great time and everyone seems pretty happy. It’s great and exciting to be here and I’m excited to do the after parties tonight too at the Canmore Curling Club. It makes for 18 hour days, it’s the backbone of the festival,” Becker said of the hard work and dedication of festival volunteers from near and far who make the event a special one for audiences and musicians who attend.
Being the oldest folk festival in Alberta, and noted for its natural beauty, the event holds a dear spot for volunteers as much as the musicians, some venturing back to lend a hand year after year.
Artist liaison Inese Clark is a good example of that. Living in Calgary, she has been donating her time to the festival for years.
“I particularly love this festival and the intimacy of it,” said Clark, whose job is to basically look after all of the artists’ needs once they’ve arrived, make arrangements for transportation, for their accommodation before they get to Canmore and really just make their lives as pleasant as possible by meeting their needs as much as she can.
“It can be anything, so that when they get onstage they can give the best performance they possibly can,” Clark said. “The feedback has been really positive; if there is one thing this festival is really known for, it’s hospitality and we go out of our way to do whatever we can. We have a real can-do attitude and whatever the needs are, we meet them as best we can.”
Being known as a dry festival, Canmore has garnered a reputation as one that truly focuses on the music and the people who make it. It’s a true community event that focuses on music instead of just being known as a three-day concert.
Liam Prost of the Calgary Folk Music Festival was invited out as a guest of the festival. The Calgary Folk Festival took place July 21-24, and a number of Alberta folk festivals have a ticket sharing program in the spirit of the folk community.
“It’s community building between the folk fests and we get to see some of the artists that we were too busy to see at our own festivals, so today I get to see Fortunate Ones and The Young’ Uns, both of which played our festival,” said Prost. “Every time we come out here we have a great time and love it.”
Fortunate Ones’ Catherine Allan’s brother lives in Calgary, and views the chance to play the festival as an extra bonus with visiting friends and family.
“It’s always nice to come out and play and tie in some family time out here and play music, it’s wonderful and we’re happy to be back in Canmore certainly,” Allan said. “They’ve treated us so well and we’re really happy to be here in Canmore; it’s actually one of our favourite places in the world.
“One thing that’s really nice for us out here over the past couple of times now is I can’t believe how many people I recognize here – we’re a long way from home and to see so many familiar faces is really nice – absolutely.”