The Calgary Folk Festival is not just for Folkies

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.

2 men, arms over each others' shoulders
Joel and Eoin are happy folk from Library Voices
Photo by Hannah Rutherford

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?

Posted by Paul Verhaegh

Author: Carey Rutherford

Swallowed by the mutual loves of words and music (but far too chicken-shit to perform them with a band), Carey’s writing career started slowly as a freelance writer in 2003, starved him nearly to personal bankruptcy until 2008, and changed directions while writing for FastForward, Beacon Calgary, GayCalgary, and Examiner magazines. With the death of many old-school periodicals, and the explosion of musical diversity in Calgary, the modern approach to writing about live music performance in the Calgary region presented uncluttered landscapes for the focussed passion that Carey’s conversations with musicians, drag queens, festival producers and small animals has uncapped. He was moulded by the brilliance of paper-based periodicals old and new (Life, rolling Stone, Swerve! and Adbusters etc.), and sees the info-verse as needing creative, empathetic, but clear-eyed Agents to communicate these performances.