If your initial reaction to the Winnipeg Folk Festival is ‘Who gives a folk?!’ or ahem, something a little more colourful – I feel you. Even as a lifelong lover of many kinds of music, I never understood the hype. I never really got it – until… I got a free ticket from a friend one year. Sure, it’s some of the things you’re going to expect it to be, (flower children, bare feet, scrubby beards) but it’s so much more.
Folk Fest is almost its own season here in Winnipeg. The 45th annual installation kicks off tomorrow and the hardcores are already out there setting up their campsites. Many of your favourite haunts around town may be conspicuously empty over the next few days and some businesses even adjust their hours or close entirely to accommodate the festival.
If you have never been or haven’t been in a while, it might be time to revisit the Winnipeg Folk Festival. Tickets sales are on pace to surpass last year’s 72,000 but don’t worry, with over 8 stages and plenty of wide open spaces, you won’t feel crowded. There are 71 artists over 4 days and you’ll be surprised at the range of genres. If you can get into The Weakerthans, City and Colour or The Tragically Hip’s Fiddler’s Green or Long Time Running you’ll dig these Power approved picks. Let me introduce you to a few:
Let’s start with a band you probably already know. Maybe you’ve heard them on the radio or maybe you even saw them in 2016 at Interstellar Rodeo. You probably know their song Spirits: “I got guns in my head and they wont go…”. They play Friday at 9:35 pm on the Main Stage and if you can cut out of work early, they’re also part of the Yours to Discover Workshop earlier that afternoon at 4:15.
You might also know Bahamas aka Afie Jurvanen. He released his fourth studio album Earthtones earlier this year. You should go see this show because it’ll be the easiest time you’ll ever have trying to get a Bahamas ticket. He’s played the Park and the Burt in the recent past and sold out both. He’s opened for ROBERT PLANT. If that’s not enough to convince you I don’t know what will. Bahamas plays the Main Stage on Saturday night at 9:45 pm and is taking part in a workshop earlier that afternoon at 4:30 called Old Songs, New Songs.
Now here’s one you may not have heard of, but that’s kind of the beauty of the festival; discovering new bands. Valley Queen is from California and describe themselves as reminiscent of Fleetwood Mac and My Morning Jacket with Florence Welch vocals. Their debut album Supergiant comes out this month but they’re already NPR and Pitchfork darlings. They play on Friday at 4:45 on the Green Ash stage and they’ll pbe part of the two workshops; You Wreck Me Saturday at 1:15 (a bunch of the workshops have Tom Petty song titles btw – just fyi) and Living In America on Sunday at 1:15.
So there you have it, three solid rock acts, which are really just the tip of the iceberg. So if I was going to buy just a one day ticket, it would probably be for Friday. Single Day tickets for Friday, Saturday or Sunday are $95 each or dive in and go for the full festival pass for $254 (you can also drop an extra $40 and still get a campsite in the quiet campground for $294). And if you’re going to be there anyway here are a few other honourable mentions (two of which are local):
Boniface (recommended by Ty Jordan)
Friday 7pm at Big Blue & Saturday 8:05 on the Main Stage
Friday 6:45 main stage, Saturday 12pm Little Stage
Friday 8:30 at Blue Blue & Saturday 12:45 @ Bur Oak.
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