Canadian acts shine as part of Vancouver Folk Music Festival lineup

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      Canadian acts were front and centre at the Vancouver Folk Music Festival during a full day of memorable performances at Jericho Beach Park Saturday (July 20).

      While the day’s main headliners were Steve Earle and The Dukes and Australian ska act The Cat Empire, sets from homegrown talent also proved to be a major highlight of the program.

      Singer-songwriter Danny Michel started off the evening lineup at the main stage joined by the Garifuna Collective, the Belize-based group he released a record with this year.

      The vocals and traditional percussion of the Garifuna Collective were a great match with Michel’s voice, and the catchy choruses and guitar riffs soon had crowd members on their feet.

      The audience had more noteworthy performances in store, starting with folk-rock act Whitehorse. The husband and wife duo of Luke Doucet and Melissa McClelland has been shortlisted for the Polaris Prize this year.

      It didn’t take long to get a sense of why they’re being recognized for their music. The pair sounded flawless as they swapped between guitars, percussion, and vocals sung into phone-receiver amplifiers, bringing a powerful on-stage energy to tracks from their 2013 record The Fate of the World Depends on This Kiss.

      The musicians also connected with the audience through local references in their between-song banter, including a story about how the album name was inspired by a postcard they saw in their frequent visits to The Templeton while they were recording their album in Vancouver.

      A performance from another act that has a Polaris-Prize nomination under its belt, Cold Specks, drew a major crowd to Stage 5 in the early evening.

      Frontwoman Al Spx quickly had the audience mesmerized with her powerful, soulful vocals.

      Despite the sound of the energetic Raghu Dixit Project drifting over from the main stage during quiet parts of the set, crowd members still seemed spellbound. The set, which featured songs from the band’s 2012 album including “Heavy Hands,” “Holland,” and “Elephant Head,” proved to be one of the highlights of the day.

      During one of the multiple side-stage shows that took place throughout Saturday, Toronto act The Wooden Sky delivered another of the day's memorable performances. After some initial technical issues, the delay was well worth the wait for the band’s gorgeous vocal harmonies.

      Canadian acts also featured prominently in sets between main-stage sets. Justin Rutledge and Del Barber both continued the trend of talented side-stage acts during brief but impressive performances.

      Of course, the headliners of the night were what many people came down to Jericho Beach for, and they did not disappoint.

      The standing areas on either side of the stage were packed with fans waiting for a chance to catch Steve Earle live. 

      Earle and his band The Dukes took to the stage to a roar of applause as the sun began to set over the park, opening with “The Low Highway,” the first track off his 2013 album.

      The Texan wrapped up a great, crowd-pleasing hour-long set with his hit “Copperhead Road” and the 2004 track “The Revolution Starts Now”.

      Bringing the night to a close was a highly entertaining performance from Australian ska act The Cat Empire. The contagious energy of the large band, including trumpet players, a D.J., keyboardist and two vocalists, quickly had the whole crowd on its feet. 

      Festival-goers are back at the park today for another full day of music, which will wrap up tonight with performances from headliners including DeVotchKa and Natalie Maines.




      Jul 22, 2013 at 2:15am

      Wooden sky sucked. Talk about prima donnas. Play the tunes! So many groovy bands ready to lay down some tunes, and they were mic checking for half the set, only to play extended ballads. Major disappointment.

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      Alan Layton

      Jul 22, 2013 at 9:02am

      I know this review is for Saturday, but on Sunday, Montreal's Bon Debarras put on quite a show, although it was on the smallest stage. Even if you don't understand French there is no denying that these guys are extremely talented musicians and performers, combining authentic Quebecois folk tradition with world music influences. They had virtually everybody up and dancing for their last song.

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