The Calgary Folk Festival is not just for Folkies

by Carey Rutherford

Irony is the great equalizer in most parts of life, and it is always apparent in good art. Music offers many opportunities for irony, and the best part is when it’s not just hidden in the songs, but rampant in the musical environment, as well.

For example, my first musical exposure to the current incarnation of the Calgary Folk Music Festival is not folky in any sense of what I’ve grown up to consider ‘folky’. the band doesn’t appear to be peopled by hippies or hillbillies, there is no obvious political agenda to bring down the government, and the performers have full-time jobs.

What’s up with that?

Library Voices’ bassist, Eoin Hickey-Cameron and percussionist Joel Hansen are clean-cut, well-spoken and friendly, and the song which introduces them to me is, as the Calgary Folk Festival’s website says, “sophisticated, . . . complex, . . . ; and anthemic.” And pop. Folk Festival, mind you.

I won’t claim some inner alignment with their history and direction: I’d never heard of them before they popped up on the Fest’s schedule. I’d have to agree with the complex harmonies and anthemic chorus part. The music was definitely not composed as Murray McLaughlin described folk musicians writing process using a bottle of rye and a guitar. Eoin agrees.

“We’re very conscious of trying to be smart about our music: We all came from bands that weren’t necessarily in this genre. We’re actually trying to be musicians and put a lot of effort into our songs, having music that’s enjoyable, but is smart, but has some thought behind it.”

“When you hear it, you catch the words, and by the time the chorus arrives the second time, you can sing it. That’s what I think anthemic means.”

These folks have four performances on the island this weekend, and three workshops, so there’s plenty of opportunity to discover them for yourself, and participate in the full band or smaller workshops they are putting on Friday and Saturday.

Joel mentions the reaction he’d like to stimulate: “Who’s this band, why are they ripping my face off with their music: I’m loving it.

“This is a fun time, and good energy around this Folk Fest,” Joel continues, “For us being here, it’s not even just about being able to play, but we get to play and witness, become fans as well.”

Library Voices is playing Thursday at 5:30 pm, Friday 3:00 pm, Saturday 11:30 am and 2:05 so be sure to catch them. More of the irony? After our wonderful cheery interview, your trusty reporters managed to miss their Thursday evening performance, . . . so we don’t actually know what they sound like onstage.

Let me know, will you?

Author: Paul Verhaegh

Music is oxygen for the soul. And there is so much music out there that you don’t even know about. If you like writing and need some oxygen now and then, writing about music is a natural combination. My love for music made me take piano lessons: after a few years it became clear that it didn’t really stick with me. Nor did the trumpet, which I tried to learn too. Well, maybe I should have tried it earlier in live. Starting it your thirties is a bit late, even when it is in your early thirties! A lasting legacy of this episode is that I realized that making music is like giving a speech without reading it from paper, although there are exceptions, like orchestras. But once they've started a song or tune it sounds like they just go with the flow, or, as the expression goes, be taken away by their own muse.