December 10, 2019

Winnipeg
-20° C, Partly cloudy

Full Forecast

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

Folkies in bliss again as strong night kicks off beloved Winnipeg Folk Fest

Edward Sharpe closes out Day 1 of fest

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros play at the Winnipeg Folk Festival in Birds Hill Park on Thursday. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)
Sultry summer scene at Birds Hill
Photos by: Mikaela MacKenzie
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros play at the Winnipeg Folk Festival in Birds Hill Park on Thursday, July 9, 2015.    (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)
Fans cheer for Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros at the Winnipeg Folk Festival in Birds Hill Park on Thursday, July 9, 2015. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros play at the Winnipeg Folk Festival in Birds Hill Park on Thursday, July 9, 2015. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)
An audience member takes a cellphone picture at the Winnipeg Folk Festival in Birds Hill Park on Thursday, July 9, 2015. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)
Kristy Brady dances to the music at Folk Fest in Birds Hill Park on Thursday, July 9, 2015. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)
Dave Simonett sings with Trampled by Turtles at Folk Fest in Birds Hill Park on Thursday, July 9, 2015.    (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)
Barbara Fuller and Kevin Seifert enjoy Folk Fest in Birds Hill Park on Thursday, July 9, 2015. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)
Ryan Young of Trampled by Turtles plays at the Winnipeg Folk Festival in Birds Hill Park on Thursday, July 9, 2015. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)
Scarlett Larsen, 6, plays the kazoo while listening to music at the Winnipeg Folk Festival in Birds Hill Park on Thursday. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)
Trampled by Turtles plays at Folk Fest in Birds Hill Park on Thursday, July 9, 2015. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)
People enjoy Folk Fest in Birds Hill Park on Thursday, July 9, 2015. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)
Tess Hellner-Mestelman, 5, plays with a ribbon at Folk Fest in Birds Hill Park on Thursday, July 9, 2015. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)
Laci McBride enjoys Folk Fest in a hammock at Birds Hill Park on Thursday, July 9, 2015. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)
Ejatu Vargo, 6, plays with a new-found friend at Folk Fest in Birds Hill Park on Thursday, July 9, 2015. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)
People enjoy Folk Fest in Birds Hill Park on Thursday, July 9, 2015.    (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)
Brina Gervais and Lori Rinckens enjoy the evening before Folk Fest at Birds Hill Park on Wednesday, July 8, 2015.    (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)
Finnley Chomichuk, 4, runs through the folk fest campground at Birds Hill Park on Wednesday, July 8, 2015. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)
Dustin Kerfoot and Holly Byman relax after setting up for folk fest at Birds Hill Park on Wednesday, July 8, 2015. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)
Abigail (left), Kari, and Gillian dress up and dance the evening before Folk Fest at Birds Hill Park on Wednesday, July 8, 2015.    (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)
Thor Buur (left) and Ryan Jones spray-paint a giant moose the night before folk fest at Birds Hill Park on Wednesday, July 8, 2015. (   Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)
Christian Kuzdub (left) and Alexandre Joyal play guitar while walking through the folk fest campground at Birds Hill Park on Wednesday, July 8, 2015. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)
Tanith Nelson is dressed for folk fest at Birds Hill Park on Wednesday, July 8, 2015. (Winnipeg Free Press)
Dylan Sellar sings the night before folk fest at Birds Hill Park on Wednesday, July 8, 2015. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)
Brandon Cassels (left) and Steben Szecsodi play drums and sing the night before folk fest at Birds Hill Park on Wednesday, July 8, 2015. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)
Curtis Falk jams the night before folk fest at Birds Hill Park on Wednesday, July 8, 2015. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)
Anita Therriault sings and dances the night before folk fest at Birds Hill Park on Wednesday, July 8, 2015. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros play at the Winnipeg Folk Festival in Birds Hill Park on Thursday. - (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros play at the Winnipeg Folk Festival in Birds Hill Park on Thursday, July 9, 2015. - (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)
Fans cheer for Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros at the Winnipeg Folk Festival in Birds Hill Park on Thursday, July 9, 2015. - (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros play at the Winnipeg Folk Festival in Birds Hill Park on Thursday, July 9, 2015. - (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)
An audience member takes a cellphone picture at the Winnipeg Folk Festival in Birds Hill Park on Thursday, July 9, 2015. - (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)
Kristy Brady dances to the music at Folk Fest in Birds Hill Park on Thursday, July 9, 2015. - (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)
Dave Simonett sings with Trampled by Turtles at Folk Fest in Birds Hill Park on Thursday, July 9, 2015. - (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)
Barbara Fuller and Kevin Seifert enjoy Folk Fest in Birds Hill Park on Thursday, July 9, 2015. - (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)
Ryan Young of Trampled by Turtles plays at the Winnipeg Folk Festival in Birds Hill Park on Thursday, July 9, 2015. - (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)
Scarlett Larsen, 6, plays the kazoo while listening to music at the Winnipeg Folk Festival in Birds Hill Park on Thursday. - (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)
Trampled by Turtles plays at Folk Fest in Birds Hill Park on Thursday, July 9, 2015. - (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)
People enjoy Folk Fest in Birds Hill Park on Thursday, July 9, 2015. - (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)
Tess Hellner-Mestelman, 5, plays with a ribbon at Folk Fest in Birds Hill Park on Thursday, July 9, 2015. - (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)
Laci McBride enjoys Folk Fest in a hammock at Birds Hill Park on Thursday, July 9, 2015. - (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)
Ejatu Vargo, 6, plays with a new-found friend at Folk Fest in Birds Hill Park on Thursday, July 9, 2015. - (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)
People enjoy Folk Fest in Birds Hill Park on Thursday, July 9, 2015. - (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)
Brina Gervais and Lori Rinckens enjoy the evening before Folk Fest at Birds Hill Park on Wednesday, July 8, 2015. - (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)
Finnley Chomichuk, 4, runs through the folk fest campground at Birds Hill Park on Wednesday, July 8, 2015. - (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)
Dustin Kerfoot and Holly Byman relax after setting up for folk fest at Birds Hill Park on Wednesday, July 8, 2015. - (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)
Abigail (left), Kari, and Gillian dress up and dance the evening before Folk Fest at Birds Hill Park on Wednesday, July 8, 2015. - (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)
Thor Buur (left) and Ryan Jones spray-paint a giant moose the night before folk fest at Birds Hill Park on Wednesday, July 8, 2015. - ( Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)
Christian Kuzdub (left) and Alexandre Joyal play guitar while walking through the folk fest campground at Birds Hill Park on Wednesday, July 8, 2015. - (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)
Tanith Nelson is dressed for folk fest at Birds Hill Park on Wednesday, July 8, 2015. - (Winnipeg Free Press)
Dylan Sellar sings the night before folk fest at Birds Hill Park on Wednesday, July 8, 2015. - (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)
Brandon Cassels (left) and Steben Szecsodi play drums and sing the night before folk fest at Birds Hill Park on Wednesday, July 8, 2015. - (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)
Curtis Falk jams the night before folk fest at Birds Hill Park on Wednesday, July 8, 2015. - (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)
Anita Therriault sings and dances the night before folk fest at Birds Hill Park on Wednesday, July 8, 2015. - (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press)

Finally, the day thousands of Winnipeggers wait for all year has arrived.

On the first day of the 42nd annual Winnipeg Folk Fest — a picture-perfect prairie evening — folk enthusiasts from near and far made the trek out to Birds Hill Provincial Park, literally skipping as they strategically placed their tarps in front of the main stage for the opening night’s lineup Thursday.

Los Angeles ensemble Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros headlined the night and brought their chill California vibe to the stage. Singer Alex Ebert spent a lot of time wandering around the stage, bare-footed, rocking a top knot and what appeared to be burlap pants as he chatted to an adoring crowd of fans.

The Magnetic Zeros opened their set with upbeat Better Days before launching into the much more tame 40 Day Dream. Ebert seemed to have an almost hypnotic relationship with the audience, staring them down with an intense amount of eye contact as he crooned from the edge of the stage.

Things kept going in the mellow direction with the beginning of Man on Fire, but quickly picked up as the song progressed and Ebert now donning a white suit jacket, made his way to the ground, skipping through the audience, dancing with people in the crowd and offering up a slew of high fives. This is the Alex Ebert show, and everyone is invited.

Later on, he took the mic into the audience (one of several times) and called on some random fans to sing along. The first girl he approached not only knew most of the words, but just happened to be fantastic. The set was very collaborative in that way, calling on communication and participation from the audience to help form the experience of the performance.

The band launched into the cutesy, fun Janglin, a wholly danceable song that had fans pressed up against the barricades feverishly shimmying from side to side as best they could.

Of course, an Edward Sharpe set would not be complete without their biggest hit — the tender, upbeat love song Home. It began with a singalong, the words of the first few verses ringing loud and clear from the thousands on the ground wailing them out. Some fans were literally clutching at their hearts as each word poured from their mouths.

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros play at the Winnipeg Folk Festival in Birds Hill Park on Thursday, July 9, 2015.

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros play at the Winnipeg Folk Festival in Birds Hill Park on Thursday, July 9, 2015.

"I’m just gonna stay out until they kick me off," Ebert said as he squatted on the stage and polled the audience as to which song they wanted to hear next — Brother or All Wash Out. The latter was the clear winner, and also the last song of the night, ending things on a calmer note, allowing Ebert and his band a moment to emphasize the fact they are actually talented singers and musicians. Take away the stage antics and wacky personality, and Ebert’s vocal prowess can stand on its own. The other stuff is just a fun addition.

 

The first band to hit this year’s main stage was local group Mariachi Ghost, who have been on a festival tear all summer, hitting up jazz festival, country festival and now folk festival. Playing the main stage — even the festival at all — seemed to be on the bucket list for Mariachi Ghost, as singer Jorge Requena enthusiastically thanked the crowd and praised the festival every chance he got. Their set was as expected, full of Mexican rhythms, tight guitar solos and a dance performance that included hand fans and hula-hoops entwined with red-tulle swirling around on stage.

Minnesota’s Trampled by Turtles came a bit later in the night and gave Folk Fest patrons a much needed kick in the butt, energy-wise. Right before they started their set, the crowd began a subtle but noticeable push toward the stage. The vibe went from sleepy to excited as fans packed the dance area, and those who hadn’t heard of them wondered what the commotion was all about.

They didn’t have to wonder for long, however, as Trampled by Turtles opened their set with the undeniably beautiful Repetition, a lush arrangement highlighting the mass of stringed instruments they had in tow (guitar, stand-up bass, mandolin, fiddle, banjo). It set the tone for a performance full of blitzes of bluegrass, broken up only occasionally by a mellow, heartfelt ballad. No matter the pace though, their music feels genuine and down to earth — a seemingly apt representation of the charming band themselves.

The members of Trampled by Turtles are skilled musicians, which was made very clear when watching the speed and accuracy with which they wail on their instruments of choice. Lead vocalist David Simonett’s voice, filled out by some gorgeous harmonies, has the perfect texture for this specific brand of folk — sweet with a hint of gruffness. It’s conducive to egging on a dance party, but also to conveying true heartbreak.

The powerful set earned them a standing ovation, the first of the night, and surely also won them a hoard of new fans.

Birds of Chicago offered up a stellar tweener set full of soulful harmonies and roots-inspired tunes. Singer Allison Russel’s voice effortlessly soared, simultaneously delicate and edgy, but full of emotion. Birds of Chicago’s music is the kind that fills you up and leaves you satisfied, even after only a short 20 minute performance.

Dustbowl Revival, Shakey Graves, Jason Isbell, Matt Anderson and the Mellotones and Bahamas headline the main stage Friday night. Daniel Champagne, Les soeurs Boulay, Mo Kenny and Luluc also perform. Music on the main stage starts at 6 p.m.

erin.lebar@freepress.mb.ca

Erin Lebar

Erin Lebar
Multimedia producer

Erin Lebar is a multimedia producer who spends most of her time writing music- and culture-related stories for the Arts & Life section. She also co-hosts the Winnipeg Free Press's weekly pop-culture podcast, Bury the Lede.

Read full biography

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

History

Updated on Thursday, July 9, 2015 at 11:35 PM CDT: write-thru

You can comment on most stories on The Winnipeg Free Press website. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

By submitting your comment, you agree to abide by our Community Standards and Moderation Policy. These guidelines were revised effective February 27, 2019. Have a question about our comment forum? Check our frequently asked questions.

Advertisement

Advertise With Us