This was my fourth Vancouver Folk Festival, but like many in attendance, a first for having to deal with buckets of rain for most of the day.
I arrived in time to catch Joel Plaskett and Jim Bryson at Stage 3 for their morning Sounds of Home workshop. When By arrived in time, I mean that I’d forgotten about the fact that artists listed in the program are not always in order of performance.
In fact, due to the rain, I wandered much more than I normally would have, and caught several acts that took me by pleasant surprise.
Joy Kills Sorrow, a band out of Boston, gave me a good show for my time under the umbrella. The band’s newest member is Jacob Jolliff, who’s been on the road since the age of 11! Vocalist Emma Beaton is the Canadian contingent of the group; she won the 2008 Canadian Folk Music Awards Young Performer of the Year. I liked their bluesy bluegrass sound, as did the crowd.
Wandering between the music stages brings you to festival’s real core: the vendor tents. One moment I was talking with Free Geeks, the next thing I knew, an impromptu jam session was underway at the cozy Pacific Bluegrass & Heritage Society tent.
Little kids had fun in the rain by “swimming” in puddles, climbing rock walls, and listening to songs for their age group at Little Folks Stage 1. In fact, I caught Leon Rosselson and Dan Bern singing the little ones a few entertaining tunes; later Rosselson joined Tim Robbins and the Rogues Gallery Band on Stage 2 for a crowd rousing set.
Another unexpected surprise was Emily Wells, a Los Angeles based musician, who performed with both keyboard and violin. Her style is electronic, incorporating vocals, sampling, and drum machine.
In fact, I wouldn’t consider her music to be folk, but more hip-hop merged with classical music. She’ll be at Stage 4 today between 11:10 and 12:10 pm.
For me, the highlight of the day was getting to watch tall and handsome Tim Robbins (I’m a fan of his films since the early days of Bull Durham) and his band, the Rogues Gallery Band.
He ended his portion of the set with Arlo Guthrie’s “I’ve Got to Know“. The crowd loved it, and by that time the rain had subsided, making life at the festival more enjoyable.
My heart went out to those who look forward to setting their blankets at the Main Stage each morning of the festival, guaranteeing their spot for the evening concert. This year, the blankets were replaced by tarps and day tents. Still, the mood of the crowd wasn’t swayed too much by the ark that’s aiming to be built in Vancouver this weekend.
Today holds promise of a drier afternoon and evening.
If you’re planning on going, a full schedule is available online. Secured bike parking costs $1 and public transit is highly recommended as I live in the area, and more cars choke the neighbourhood streets each year. Check out more photos from Day 1 on Flickr.