Rain-Defying Folk(s): The Vancouver Folk Music Festival 2011

It was my first year at the Vancouver Folk Music Festival, which was held from 15 until 17 July 2011, so I don’t know whether it had rained this much at previous events. I just kept stoically repeating my volunteer raffle seller’s credo ‘smile and the rain will go away’ and hoped for the best. And, despite the rain, the best it was in terms of the fun I had and the amazing music I got to experience over a long weekend in (believe it or not) July.

From Gillian Welch to Rosanne Cash, Mary Gauthier and Cris Williamson it was the female performers that most rocked the festival for me. Every time I wandered from stage to stage on the beautiful festival grounds at Jericho Beach I kept stopping in awe of an intriguing singing voice that caught my ear and had me pinned to the ground until that particular person put down their guitar. This is also how I came across my festival favorite, Diana Jones. Her haunting rendition of ‘Pony’ was still going around in my head by the time I left the festival grounds late on Sunday night and inspired me greatly to put pen to paper again more often.

Of course there were also Josh Ritter (now a novelist too!), who woke up rain-weary festival goers with his energetic performance, and Emmanuel Jal, whose serious message was perfectly packaged into danceable tunes, which resonated particularly well with the younger crowd. I was also pleasantly surprised at how many of the performers have active twitter accounts and some seem to even use them on the go. Here are a few if you happen to be a twitter junkie, like moi: @rosannecash @dianajonesmusic @gillianwelch @joshritter @emmanueljal @solasmusic @joykillssorrow @the_jayhawks @pokeylafarge @dannymichel @jplaskett @elliotbrood @buck65 @fugitivesmusic @imaginarycities @davidwaxmuseum

My volunteer experience was also totally ace! For putting in 12 hours of work (hard earned particularly on the rainy Saturday, mind you) the 1600 (!) volunteers got free festival passes, enjoyed some incredibly yummy lunches and dinners (incl. salmon, strawberries and icecream) as well as had two festival parties, one of which was attended by a few of the performers and had a handy shuttle service to the location. Yes, it was a very wet weekend indeed, but the stellar lineup at Jericho Beach has also more than whetted my appetite for exploring more folk music in the future.

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