Calgary Folk Festival 2012 Day One Recap and Photos
In its 33rd year, Alberta’s Calgary Folk Festival has grown up with its city, evolving as the city has taken on a new arts-focused mentality. The event is held at Prince’s Island Park in the heart of downtown Calgary where 12,000 people come each year to volunteer and enjoy the music.
It’s not your muddy, camping festival experience. There are no overnight guests allowed, except for those who camp outside the gate all night in an effort to keep the best seats possible. With children and seniors granted free admission, the four-day festival has a family feel to it, saturated with a wide variety of people: greying old women lounging in lawn chairs, children toddling along the surrounding Bow River, or the enthused masses pressing against either side of the stage in the designated “dance areas.”
The Barr Brothers took the stage first, armed with bicycle wheel drum kits and a harp, kicking off the festival with reverb-soaked folk as more and more people continued to pack themselves in.
After a few slight technical difficulties, Charles Bradley, The Screaming Eagle of Soul himself, was up next. Bradley was backed by his Extraordinaires, and crooned his signature funk and R&B-inspired tunes. Bradley overtook the stage, showing off his sexy, sassy dance moves loaded with hip swivels and pops and even came into the crowd to hug fans during “Why Is It So Hard?”
Local comedy duo Atomic Improv were the emcees for the evening, taking the stage to provide some entertainment and perform skits between sets. But after the funk craze had died down, the crowd was provided a little something extra as Calgary-based four piece Reuben & the Dark performed a mini-set of harmony-filled folk anthems on the far side of the stage.
Beirut followed, bringing the crowd largely to their feet even before bassist Paul Collins took the mic to explain the premise of Footloose to the mostly seated crowd in the field of lawn chairs.
“I see people telling people not to dance and that is just wrong,” he insisted upon the onlookers. “Please let the kids dance!” The crowd followed in full form, bringing almost everyone to their feet for their last three numbers.
Chris Isaak closed out the opening night, bringing back the family-fun aspect with his bright red bedazzled suit and dance moves in unison with the rest of his glittering band.