By Deborah Shatz (EJNews)
The 2015 Edmonton Folk Music Festival has come to a close and it was a wonderful four day event, filled with fantastic music and talented performers, in an exceptionally beautiful location. Edmonton’s Gallagher Park forms a natural amphitheatre that provides a setting each year for a spectacular view of the cityscape and at the same time gives every festival goer a great seat on the hill to enjoy the whole gamut of music offered at the festival.
The easy going, friendly atmosphere makes it one of the most family friendly festivals around. And performers cannot say enough about the expertise of the volunteer crews and how well they are cared for. The Edmonton Folk Festival is without a doubt the best that Edmonton has to offer.
This year’s festival was another stellar event. With great performances from Iceland’s Of Monsters and Men, the Barr Brothers, Brandi Carlile, Harry Manx, I’m with Her, Aurelio, Lord Huron, Old Man Luedecke, Chuck Brodsky, Gregory Alan Isakov and Ashley MacIsaac, there was certainly something fantastic for everyone.
The mainstage is wonderful for the music and also for the gorgeous view of the city, the graduated sunset and darkfall, the beautiful flickering candles in the night and the phenomenal sense of camaraderie that 25,000 share when they are part of something wonderful.
But, the real gems are the small stages and workshops. They are a more intimate place for thousands to gather, enjoy the sunshine and the music. Magic often happens during the workshops – particularly when performers join in each other songs. Small concerts are fabulous – they are an opportunity to hear a favourite artist or someone new for an uninterrupted hour or more.
A musical highlight came for me on Sunday afternoon at a Milk Carton Kids concert. The band is made up of two singer/guitarists Kenneth Pattengale and Joey Ryan. Their sound is angelic with harmonies resembling Simon & Garfunkel and the Everly Brothers, with a lush melding of two acrobatic acoustic guitars. It is quiet folk music (with jazz, bluegrass and classical inflections) and instrumental genius and their blend seems effortless and flawless.
Their music is transcendent; just as the audience starts to float into oblivion, the two begin to engage in friendly, engaging, hilarious, sarcastic, cheeky banter. On Sunday afternoon at Stage 3, Joey Ryan explains why the duo are wearing suits in 30 degree heat. He said they were told the dress code was business casual. But he questioned why the audience was largely in a state of undress. He then criticized Kenneth’s choice of a decorative bolo tie. “You thought that was a good choice for today?” he joked.
He told the crowd that he became a father this year and explained that the labour and birth were really difficult – for him. He said he had been on the road when his wife went into labour; he got the call at 1 am. They had to cancel their show and he managed to get the next flight home leaving at 6 am. He said he had to endure five hours of labour on face time and if you think things got easier once he got to the hospital, you’d be wrong. “It was a really difficult and violent experience,” he reiterated and then dead panned – “for me.” He joked that the hospital bed for his wife was wonderful, while the cot for him was paper thin. “Thankfully she traded with me on the second night,” he added.
The crowd loved their irreverent humour and absolutely adored their music.
If you missed the show and would like to hear the Milk Carton Kids, click here and you can download their first two albums for free. The duo is also scheduled to return to Edmonton on October 9 at the Winspear.
Here are some of our photos and a short video of the Milk Carton Kids, from the 2015 Edmonton Folk Music Festival: