The 41st annual Winnipeg Folk Festival runs from Weds., July 9 through Sunday, July 13 in Birds Hill Park, with concerts beginning at 6 p.m. each evening and daytime stages running from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Because there’s so much to see and do at the festival, I’ve compiled the following lists of festival reminders and artist information:
Top 5 acts to catch at this year’s Winnipeg Folk Festival:
1) Baskery – Authentic, heart-wrenching, rootsy Americana played by three Swedish sisters. Honest. Performing: Fri., 2:30 p.m., Big Bluestem (part of Playing on a Riff workshop); Fri., 10:55 p.m., mainstage; Sat., 4 p.m., Snowberry Field (part of Guided By Voices workshop); Sun., 11 a.m., (part of Reason to Believe workshop)
2) Hurray for the Riff Raff – Alynda Lee Segarra’s New Orleans-based band is steeped in traditional, North American folk/roots sounds but her songs are inspired by and reflect thoroughly modern themes, from the violence of rape to themes of identity and loss. As such, she may remind older listeners of Arkansas Traveler-era Michelle Shocked. Performing: Fri., 2:30 p.m., Big Bluestem (part of Playing on a Riff workshop); Fri., 9:35 p.m., mainstage; Sat., 12:30, Green Ash (part of New Folk Revival workshop)
3) James McMurtry – His dad wrote Lonesome Dove. His mom was an English prof. So yeah, it makes sense that McMurtry has a way with words. His songs are colourful slices of life mixed with wry state-of-the-union observations. You’ll hang on every word. Performing: Sat., 2:30 p.m., Snowberry Field (concert); Sun., 4 p.m., Green Ash (concert).
4) Corb Lund – One of the best Canadian songwriters of his generation, Lund is equally adept at tackling life’s big themes and capturing the idiosyncrasies of prairie humour and cowboy wit. His guitar player, Winnipeg’s Grant Siemens, is one of the best you’ll hear all weekend. Performing: Fri., 4 p.m., Bur Oak (part of How the West Was Won workshop); Fri., 7:10 p.m., mainstage; Sat., 4 p.m., Spruce Hollow (part of Badlands workshop).
5) Sharon Van Etten – When it was released this spring, Van Etten's fourth atmospheric folk/pop album, Are We There, briefly brought her the kind of mainstream attention that’s afforded the likes of Lorde or Lana Del Rey. There’s good reason for that, as the slow-burning glow of her music tends to linger on and on and on. Performing: Sat., 12:30 p.m., Snowberry Field (part of Reason to Believe workshop); Sat., 8 p.m., Big Bluestem@Night (concert)
Don’t forget to follow the locals:
Manitobans playing this year’s Winnipeg Folk Festival include: Bros. Landreth; Aaron Burnett; Little Miss Higgins & the Winnipeg 5; JP Hoe; Cara Luft; Marie-Claude; Mr. Mark; Ruth Moody; Grant Siemens; Sweet Alibi
Check out the kids:
The Folk Festival annual helps foster the next generation of Manitoba performers through its Galaxie Young Performers Program, which is aimed at developing up-and-coming artists through mentorship by established performers from the festival lineup. This year’s group of youngsters, who will perform all day Friday at the Shady Grove stage includes: Ila Barker, Erika Fowler, Stephanie Haderer, Adam Hanney, Olivia Lunny, Cassidy Mann, Lucas and Madeleine Roger, Mitchell Schimnowski, Ryan Van Belleghem, and Tyler Wagar.
Last-minute things the Festival wants you to know:
- Don’t forget your park passes: concert-goers will need a Manitoba Parks pass to access Birds Hill Park to get to the festival site. Day passes are $5 while an annual pass is $40, available at the park gate (cash only), CAA Manitoba or most places fishing licenses are sold.
- There's a new parking procedure: festival parking lot is now divided into two lots based and you will be directed to park according to the park entrance you will use to enter and leave Birds Hill. Simply put, if you use the East Gate (via Highway 206), you’ll park on the east side of the lot and if you use the West Gate (via Highway 59), you’ll park on the west side of the lot.
- No bottled water will be sold at the festival: Bring your own water bottles or reusable mugs. Water taps can be found all over the festival site.
- Beware of the height of your chairs: The festival has long had a rule that low-slung beach chairs used in the tarpaulin area of the mainstage seating area and in the seating area in front of workshop stages can be no taller than 24 inches. In a recent newsletter, festival organizers reminded owners of RIO chairs with 32-inch seatbacks that they should use the lawn-chair seating area at mainstage, and/or situate themselves at the back or along the edges of workshop stage crowds.
For full festival information and to buy tickets, visit: