In what was a rebuilding year from the rained-out 2011 event, the Brandon Folk, Music and Art festival managed to stage a very entertaining event last weekend.
While the final numbers haven’t been released yet, it was plain to see that there were quite a few people on the southeast treed corner of the Keystone Centre grounds — and all appearing to be having a good time.
About the festival site. It needs work. The ground is more rutted and difficult to navigate each year and the ancient stage is a joke. It’s tiny and offers almost no protection from the elements for performers.
It would be fantastic to have some kind of clam-shell style as found at secondary performance areas at the Winnipeg Folk Festival. But clearly that would be a stretch for the local folk society to afford. I suggest sprucing up that nice treed corner of the Keystone Centre grounds would give the facility an area that could provide new sources of revenue, as more events could take place there during the year.
But I digress.
The headline acts at the folk festival were a wonderfully odd mix. You had the trendy and current Great Lake Swimmers on Friday. That band was followed Saturday night by the slightly forgotten eclectic and just plain odd ’90s era Canadian star Jane Siberry — who bravely performed in a midnight downpour. Then the Sunday program ended — and international folk music legend Judy Collins closed the show Sunday night.
I’m told Siberry, shown Sunday night in the photo at right, was so pleased with her experience at the festival that she made a sizeable donation on her way out. Now that’s a class act.
The festival actually kicked off Thursday night at the nearby Canad Inns Roadhouse with a roster that included The Young Pixels and Nathan.
Following the #bfmaf hashtag on Twitter and talking to real humans on site, it was clear that Winnipeg’s Little House band, Brandon’s Son Latino Band and Sebastian Owl were favourites.
There was a Five-Act Community Play that was performed between sets on Saturday that was a bit hard to follow and was essentially taking swipes at some of the folks in Brandon who aren’t supportive of the folk festival and some of its ongoing projects. Large puppet heads were used — very creative — but the narrative was hard to follow.
Especially if you weren’t there all day.
And naturally, as it was a folk festival (yes, there was some art too, but not enough of it and not varied enough to my liking), there were plenty of political statements. And obviously, they ranged from calls for some mild social activism to savage socialist rants.
One item caught my attention Saturday. I couldn’t resist the irony of having a 45-minute multi-artist workshop called Songs For Stephen Harper when the festival is partly funded by the feds and Brandon-Souris MP Merv Tweed also bought a quarter-page ad in the festival program.
So while the folkies might want to learn a bit about the concept of not biting the hand that feeds you, the Conservatives also need to realize it is a folk festival.
And apart from repeated one-offs about Harper hating the arts and one woman looking pretty dumb doing an impression of Senate page Brigette Marcelle with a Stop Harper sign (see above), it was relatively tame, with many of the songs simply being anti-capitalist in nature.
But I’ll leave you with one odd attempt at an anti-Harper statement made by a fellow going by the name of Graham Peaceful.
“It’s pointless to fight drugs like it’s pointless to fight terrorism,” he said. “It’s going to happen any way.’
Sheesh. Some socialists aren’t all that savvy.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition July 28, 2012