The 40th Annual Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festival was supposed to run from August 5th to 7th, but a night of heavy rain stretched it out till Monday the 8th, when the final night headlined by The Once went ahead in Bannerman park in fine weather.
This was a tremendously successful year for Folk Festival, with very large crowds all 3 evenings. Barring Sunday’s rain, the festival was idyllic, the sort of year the Folk Arts Society and festival goers alike would love to see repeated.
Sunday Night’s Crowd
Warm weather, great food vendors (except for complaints of the odd raw mooseburger ), high attendance, and a really positive vibe amongst the crowd was matched by some of the highest quality entertainment you will find on the rock, with excellent visiting artists as well.
Beyond the obvious, all star Fretboard Journey, Friday’s stand outs for me were Sheesham and Lotus and Son as well as The Kubasonics, who rocked the house (field?) and inspired some serious ecstatic dancing from a small group of revelers. Sherman Downey finished the evening on a great note.
Saturday’s workshops were excellent, including a morning Bluegrass jam with Crooked Stovepipe, The Rosalines, Rik Barron, and Old Man Luedecke. The Swinging Belles youth workshop in the morning culminated in an afternoon performance in which the children who attended in the morning accompanied the band on stage in a song they had prepared together at the workshop.
Saturday night was star studded. The Figgy Duff reunion show and the Ron Hynes tribute were both very special treats, as was Pat Boyle’s appearance with Jenny Gear and the Whiskey Kittens. Amelia Curran, who in my mind may yet be heiress to Ron’s throne as our next ‘crafter of a thousand songs,’ headlined.
Sunday Afternoon’s light rain did not spoil the joy of the accordion session, replete with tunes from my family home of Bay de Verde. Monday’s closing evening show was bustling and the crowd was visibly stoked to be there.
The Dardanelles and the Ennis Sisters were moving and fun, and when The Fortunate Ones and The Once took their turns on stage the excitement was palpable. Friday and Saturday night showcased some fabulous visitors, but Sunday night was kind of special in how proud it made you feel to be a Newfoundlander, with all this amazing talent coming from your home.
When I asked Nova Scotian banjo virtuoso Old Man Leudecke how it felt to be playing here, his one word, enthusiastic response was ‘AWESOME!’