Vancouver Folk Music Festival celebrates in style
The Vancouver Folk Music Festival just unveiled its 2012 lineup, and it looks like it’s one of the strongest in several years. It’s also undeniably retro-themed and intentionally so: this year marks the 35th anniversary of the summertime event, and organizers have given pride of place to artists who were there at, or near, the beginning. Fortunately most of those artists have continued to grow, along with the festival itself.
With roots that go back to the very first VFMF, Pied Pumkin is one of those acts, and although the acoustic trio of Joe Mock, Rick Scott, and Shari Ulrich has retained the hippy whimsy of its early days, it’s also experienced a late-career renaissance in recent years. Similarly, Holly Near, a pioneer of the women’s-music movement of the 1970s, has lost none of her talent for acute observation of social issues. Autoharp wizard Bryan Bowers remains an extremely personable performer, as does Greenwich Village folk legend Ramblin’ Jack Elliott. Other folk-fest veterans slated to return include ageless singer-songwriter Roy Forbes and Gulf Islands guitar virtuoso David Essig.
For those who were there for the early days of the festival, 2012 is going to be something of a love-in. But not all of this year’s featured artists are approaching senior status: also on the roster are new and exciting discoveries. One must-see debut will be that of Texas-born Cedric Watson and his band; the hip hop–influenced fiddler, accordionist, and singer is arguably the most talented, and almost certainly the most energetic, of zydeco’s new generation. Bette and Wallet work similarly contemporary magic with their Québécois and Acadian roots, while former Vancouverite and pan-stylistic fiddler Jaron Freeman-Fox will be sure to surprise.
There’s also a host of bankable performers who may or may not have deep folk-fest roots, ranging from long-time event supporter Veda Hille to Americana icon Lucinda Williams to indie-folk innovator Ani DiFranco. At the risk of sounding promotional, this year’s folk fest—at Jericho Beach Park from July 13 to 15—really does have something for everyone.
For a full lineup and ticket information, visit the Folk Festival website.