August 2, 2015


Local

Opening night doesn't disappoint at Winnipeg Folk Festival

WEDNESDAY, JULY 10 — About 300 cyclists head north on Hwy. 59 to Birds Hill Provincial Park then to the Festival Campground to set up their camping spots.
Campers in vehicles line up Wednesday morning to get in to the festival camping area.
Jody Hopper (right) helps his friend Sean Strachan set up his tent in the festival camping.
Megan Barrymore (right) and wife Mandolyn share a hammock in a shady nook of the festival grounds.
Premier Greg Selinger points jubilantly up at the top of the Festival Tower shortly after the grand opening of the Winnipeg Folk Festival and its new Festival Village.
Festival-goers make the traditional run to the main stage, tarps in hand, to stake out a spot.
Paul Tackaberry (right) fans out his tarp.
Space near the main stage fills up fast as everyone tries to claim a prime spot.
Scott Buxton demonstrates circular breathing on one of his didgeridoos.
People wait patiently on near the main stage for locals Oh My Darling to open Wednesday night's performances.
Ojibway Métis elder Mae Louise Campbell offered the Winnipeg Folk Festival's opening blessing on the Main Stage Wednesday night.
Local Winnipeg group Oh My Darling starts the Wednesday night performances.
A man snaps a photo of Oh My Darling.
Oh My Darling.
Oh My Darling.
The crowd gets moving to the Avett Brothers.
The Avett Brothers get people up out of their seats.
The Avett Brothers.
Sisters Avery MacKenzie, 6, and Cadence, 3, try to catch bubbles made by Rich Hamon.
Festival-goers take a break at the conclusion of the Avett Brothers' set on the main stage.
Festival-goers groove to the Avett Brothers.
Festival attendees enjoy the sunset and prairie grass on the first day of the 2013 Winnipeg Folk Fest.
City and Colour headlines the main stage Wednesday night.
Fans watch City and Colour attentively.
Dallas Green of City and Colour closes out the main stage performances Wednesday night.
WEDNESDAY, JULY 10 — About 300 cyclists head north on Hwy. 59 to Birds Hill Provincial Park then to the Festival Campground to set up their camping spots. - Wayne Glowacki / Winnipeg Free Press
Campers in vehicles line up Wednesday morning to get in to the festival camping area. - Wayne Glowacki / Winnipeg Free Press
Jody Hopper (right) helps his friend Sean Strachan set up his tent in the festival camping. - Wayne Glowacki / Winnipeg Free Press
Megan Barrymore (right) and wife Mandolyn share a hammock in a shady nook of the festival grounds. - JESSICA BURTNICK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
Premier Greg Selinger points jubilantly up at the top of the Festival Tower shortly after the grand opening of the Winnipeg Folk Festival and its new Festival Village. - Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press
Festival-goers make the traditional run to the main stage, tarps in hand, to stake out a spot. - Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press
Paul Tackaberry (right) fans out his tarp. - Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press
Space near the main stage fills up fast as everyone tries to claim a prime spot. - JESSICA BURTNICK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
Scott Buxton demonstrates circular breathing on one of his didgeridoos. - JESSICA BURTNICK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
People wait patiently on near the main stage for locals Oh My Darling to open Wednesday night's performances. -
Ojibway Métis elder Mae Louise Campbell offered the Winnipeg Folk Festival's opening blessing on the Main Stage Wednesday night. - JESSICA BURTNICK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
Local Winnipeg group Oh My Darling starts the Wednesday night performances. - JESSICA BURTNICK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
A man snaps a photo of Oh My Darling. - JESSICA BURTNICK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
Oh My Darling. - JESSICA BURTNICK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
Oh My Darling. - JESSICA BURTNICK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
The crowd gets moving to the Avett Brothers. - JESSICA BURTNICK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
The Avett Brothers get people up out of their seats. - JESSICA BURTNICK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
The Avett Brothers. - JESSICA BURTNICK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
Sisters Avery MacKenzie, 6, and Cadence, 3, try to catch bubbles made by Rich Hamon. - JESSICA BURTNICK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
Festival-goers take a break at the conclusion of the Avett Brothers' set on the main stage. - JESSICA BURTNICK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
Festival-goers groove to the Avett Brothers. - JESSICA BURTNICK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
Festival attendees enjoy the sunset and prairie grass on the first day of the 2013 Winnipeg Folk Fest. - Melissa Tait / Winnipeg Free Press
City and Colour headlines the main stage Wednesday night. - JESSICA BURTNICK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
Fans watch City and Colour attentively. - JESSICA BURTNICK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
Dallas Green of City and Colour closes out the main stage performances Wednesday night. - JESSICA BURTNICK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

BIRDS HILL PARK — "Hello beautiful people. Welcome home."

That’s how acclaimed local singer/songwriter and main stage host Del Barber simply and beautifully welcomed revelers to the 40th annual Winnipeg Folk Festival.

Dallas Green of City and Colour headlines the main stage at the Winnipeg Folk Festival Wednesday night.

JESSICA BURTNICK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Dallas Green of City and Colour headlines the main stage at the Winnipeg Folk Festival Wednesday night. Photo Store

Whether you’ve been coming to Birds Hill Park the second weekend of every July for a few years or for four decades, you know it feels like coming home.

And what a show to come home to. The festival’s Wednesday night opening concert, an addition made in 2009 to accommodate Britpop icon Elvis Costello, has played host to impressive, big-draw headliners in the subsequent years, Tegan and Sara and Feist among them.

City and Colour, a.k.a. Canadian singer/songwriter Dallas Green, met that lofty bar with his mellow, if a bit sleepy, set of intimate, reflective ballads.

Armed with an acoustic guitar, the former Alexisonfire guitarist opened with Forgive Me off his 2008 sophomore album Bring Me Your Love before launching into the rollicking The Lonely Life off his latest, 2013’s The Hurry and the Harm.

Green’s dulcet voice rose above the slightly muddy mix — a good thing, since his lyrics are worth hearing.

At press time, he was jamming out the slinky slowburner As Much As I Ever Could.

Red-hot North Carolina folk-rock outfit The Avett Brothers, easily among the lineup’s most-anticipated act since wowing folkies back in 2010, delivered a raucous, crowd-pleasing set in the evening sunshine.

Although the band has been enjoying a higher profile thanks to its most recent pair of releases — 2009’s breakout album I and Love and You and last year’s Grammy-nominated The Carpenter — Scott and Seth Avett and Bob Crawford, along with touring members Joe Kwon and Mike Marsh, drew from all over the Avetts’ estimable catalogue.

The bouncy, Britpop-inflected Will You Return, from 2007’s Emotionalism, and I and Love and You’s breakneck bluegrass jam Laundry Room were highlights.

Although it could have been held back for a closer, the crowd was rewarded with the pure pop bliss of Live and Die, The Carpenter’s biggest earworm, early in the set.

The band also shone in its quieter moments. A stripped-down and soulful rendition of traditional gospel hymn Just a Closer Walk with Thee — which saw the three core members gather around one microphone — was a stunning showpiece for the band’s honeyed three-part harmonies. And those Southern boys sure know how to tug on the heartstrings; it was hard not to get a little choked up during I and Love and You’s hopelessly romantic title track.

Revered local bluegrass/roots quartet Oh My Darling kicked things off with an appropriately twang-filled set of high-energy toe-tappers. Banjoist Allison de Groot, fiddler Rosalyn Dennett, guitarist Vanessa Kuzina and bassist Marie-Josée Dandeneau are easily among the upper echelon of Winnipeg players, as they effortlessly reminded us Wednesday night.

It’s always rewarding to see ’Peg boys and girls do good. Kuzina started her folk festival career as a Young Performer — now she’s playing the main stage.

Her heart-on-sleeve performance of Won’t Need My Shoes (On Heaven’s Floor), a song written for her grandmother on the morning she passed away, was among the night’s most touching moments.

Colin Meloy of Portland indie rock outfit The Decemberists headlines Thursday night’s main stage.

Patrick Watson, Danny Michel, Lindi Ortega and Nathan Rogers also perform.

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