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The Mill Race Folk Festival - Mostly, it is...

Aug. 3rd, 2009

04:10 am - The Mill Race Folk Festival

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Phew. That was fantastic. I just got back home a few hours ago after three days away, so I'm in that in between state of elated and exhausted, but I've got pages of notes (albeit, out of a not very large notebook), so, presuming that I write it up before I go to Montréal and my memory buffer overflows beyond the stage of keyword reminder memory triggers, I should be able to give a good supplemental account beyond the sketching out I'm doing here.

The Mill Race Festival in Cambridge Ontario had its 17th year this August long weekend. As one might expect from the name, folk music from British traditions made up the largest part of it, but less than half. Also represented were French Canadian (second), Métis, Cajun (I now have a better idea of what zydeco means), flamenco, French (Kudos to Angus Audio's sound people for knowing how to handle a hurdy-gurdy.), Peruvian, Appalachian, and probably others that I'm forgetting.

A few exclamatory remarks:

The Swamp Ward Orchestra puts a hurdy-gurdy, an accordion and a banjo together on stage. They make it work, even though traditional french folk doesn't properly use the banjo. I think that it was Alfie Smith who said, "Now if you got a bagpipe that would trigger the apocalypse."

Speaking of Alfie, my goodness what a voice. If you like bluegrass, and you can see him live, I highly recommend it.

Pub sings: Okay, so, there's a lot of content which is offensive or nasty towards a wide range of people, but if you can get past that, and you've got a good community of people, it's a powerful thing. This despite a few of the locals likening it to karaoke before television. If you can have a solid core of the crowd be professional touring musicians, or at equivalent skill level, so much the better. ...even if the Scottish accent on the verses is so thick that you can't tell exactly what the jinkies are that you've never seen the likes of "at McGuinty's Beer and Ale with a piggen on the spree".

Bette & Wallet (Marie Beth Carty et Gabriel Ouellette) Recycled music! While they also do traditional east coast/Quebecois jigs and reels, they also write songs about modern issues and put them to traditional-ish tunes. "Aubaines" about the excesses and imbalances of retail culture and "Squeegees" describing sacrifices people make for their cultural identity.

Swamperella and Tanglefoot both live up to their excellent reputations as performers. I think that I've found my new favourite hockey song (Seven on a side).

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