Tuesday, July 14, 2009


The VFMF mascot, Pete Seagull. Can't beat folky humour...

Egads, where have I been all this time? Well, Dearest Friends, abroad for a good chunk of it. Abroad for me and many of you, in yer backyard for some. You see, I was in the good ole U.S. of A with the family, visiting Mother. Almost two weeks we were there, staying on the upper fluke of Long Island's tail like sea lice on a whale. And I had intended to tell y'all all about it, honest. But the whole trip became so wrapped up and impacted and encased in baggage that the story grew hard to tell without scratchy rawness and muddle and destructive emotions. I did try for the past week, mind you, thinking that forcing it out into the light of blog would disentangle it, make it easier to reconcile the strands. However, all my attempt just ended up in frustratingly tighter knots. Sigh, and fuckit...

So then, let's talk about shinier, happier stuff. And what's shinier and happier than MUSIC, hmm?? This weekend coming up is one I've been looking forward to all year, because it's that of the annual Vancouver Folk Music Festival!! Yay!! As you may recall from here and here, I've grown very fond of the Festival and is broadly stretchy definition of "folk" (Celtic fiddles? Check. Bhangra? Check. Dub? Check.) , so much so that this year will mark my third as a volunteer. In return for 12 hours of putting life & limb on the line as a security pig, I get to go for free and get fed mung bean soup! W to the O to the O to the T!!

Undoubtedly it'll be someone I never heard of who blows me away (cf Old Man Luedecke, Rodney DeCroo, and Abigail Washburn), but as usual there are a few acts in the lineup who I'm interested in seeing for one reason or another. Winnipeg's folk-funk-popsters The Weakerthans I've been keen to see for a while now. Likewise Basia Bulat, over whom many of my lovely blogobuddies have been drooling for some time. Los de Abajo promise to offer up a mix of Mexican mariachiness and ska - how can one resist that?? And it will be interesting to see Arrested Development (yes, Mr Wendel's friends) show off their daisy-age hip hop (remember: "broadly stretchy definition of folk") as they promote their first North American album in 12 years.

And then there are The Proclaimers. Um, yes...

Why the hesitation? Well, as a yoof I loved their debut LP, "This Is The Story" (especially the brilliant rant against linguistic fascism, "Throw the 'R' Away"), their frantically earnest singing, their Red politics, and their engaging live performances. "Sunshine on Leith" didn't do it as much for me, but I still enjoyed the album, particularly "Jean." From then on it all went a bit adrift; I found I didn't relate to their strong, overtly religious stuff, while their strident nationalism --like almost all of its kind-- left me uneasy. Then there was "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)," which, thanks to goddamn Benny & Joon, got stuck in the heads of mononeuronic eedjits everywhere as the beginning and end of all Caledonian lyricism: "Oh, I LOVE Scottish music! I listen to The Proclaimers all the time!! 'I would walk foyve-hundred moyles...' " Now I realise that all of this is my problem, and not that of Messrs Reid & Reid, but it is the monkey that I am bringing with me on my back. But I'm also bringing open ears and an open mind, in the hopes of (once again) being delighted. We shall see.

Dearest Friends, I'll give you a fuller report after the Fest, but in the meantime would you like a smattering of tunes?

The Weakerthans - Tournament of Hearts (buy here)
Los de Abajo - Joder (buy here or e-here)
The Proclaimers - Throw the 'R' Away (buy here)

And as is customary in the run-up to the Festival, please allow me to mock in advance all of the dirty hippies I'll have to endure with their tie-dye, unchecked body hair, sweaty-patchouli stink, and helicopter dancing. They're actually all quite lovely, but I have an image to maintain.

The Dead Milkmen - The Thing That Only Eats Hippies (buy here)