The final day had arrived. A (partly) sunny weekend highlighted by world-class musicians from all over the folk spectrum was hitting its twilight. Awkward, yet, somehow, strangely comfortable, dancing dads had been a defining characteristic of this year’s festival on the beach. Spotted at nearly every corner of the festival grounds, dancing dads stomped their feet and twisted their fingers to the beat as best they could. Sandals and socks included.
The dancing masses warmed my heart throughout the festival with their increasing no-fucks-given approach to the process. With a predominantly white crowd, side stage at most shows, from a distance, looked like a bunch of children having a collective tantrum. Inching closer revealed that the stereotype is true — white people can’t dance. Limbs were tossed around like rice at a wedding. Everywhere and without care. Hips shooks awkwardly with grins stamped on painted faces. Flowing floral dresses skirted along the ground, twisting and turning to the rhythm. Perhaps Shayne Koyczan’s words from the night before had inspired people to trade their self-doubt for awful, yet charming, dance moves. Thorough and genuine enjoyment was clearly present on Sunday. Regardless of ability, the folked up masses threw away their hesitance to let loose one last time.
Lisa Leblanc kicked off the evening portion of Sunday on Stage 5. Her third time playing this weekend (Friday night; Saturday afternoon), she still showed signs of excitement playing the last portion of the festival. With her banjo slung over one shoulder, she dove into the traditional American song “Katy Cruel”. A tragic song, like most folk songs, Leblanc sang with grit and played with ease. Fingers plucking, groups formed at stage left and right. The Acadian songstress belted away as the dancers grew in numbers. Speaking in Frenglish, she charmed the crowd with a lovable accent. To close the set, she played a cover of Motörhead’s “Ace of Spades”. A bearded man in a ragged band tee tried to start a mosh pit, but the folked up masses weren’t ready to let loose quite yet.
Meanwhile, Lakou Mizik (hailing from Haiti) kept the party going on the main stage. Sing alongs with the audience. Bongo rhythms that took over the body and made people better dances for bursts at a time. The back and forth calling between artist and audience, paired with huge smiles, encapsulated the spirit of folk fest in one set. Later coming on for a cameo with Colorado band Leftover Salmon, Lakou Mizik meshed surprisingly well with the bluegrass band.
Yet, the highlight of the weekend were pre-festival closers, and local boys, The Harpoonist & The Axe Murderer. Shawn Hall (harpoonist) and Matt Rogers (axe murderer), joined by two lovely backup vocalists, wowed everybody watching at Stage 3 with their gritty brand of blues rock. Each stomp of Rogers’ drum separated the rain clouds and allowed the sun to poke through. The simplicity of this band is the allure. Two musicians creating a booming sound with a pulse. The heavy drum echoed and gifted the side-stage dancers a heartbeat to guide their limbs in bend. Each song was celebrated louder and in greater than the one before. If that set was placed in a barn, the building would be on fire. A true barn burner and a fantastic way to close that stage.
Artists from each side of the spectrum were included this weekend. World, traditional, americana, canadiana, blues, roots n’ roll… all with one common theme — folk. Young and old, small and tall expressed their enjoyment by dancing all weekend. How could they not enjoy themselves while taking in the postcard views at Jericho Beach.
The sound quality at each stage was excellent as were the musicians. The food was plenty, delicious, and overpriced. The wise packed a lunch. The lazy packed money.
The whole event went off without any issues known to the dancing masses. They were oblivious in their bliss. Running from stage to stage, picking through tye-dye fabric and browsing samurai pants at the bazaar, nothing was more important this weekend. Nothing else mattered, but Folk Fest. The weekend was a success. A music festival now is considered a success if there are no overdoses, right?
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