Folk Fest just gets better with age - Metro US

Folk Fest just gets better with age

If you haven’t already purchased a ticket to this year’s Edmonton Folk Music Festival, will you never learn?

Full weekend passes are once again sold out. Best peruse the Craigslist or Kijiji classifieds, or park your butt at the main gate, if you’re looking for last-minute ticket deals.

As of press time, the only tickets left are for tonight’s Sarah McLachlan and Tracy Chapman Forever Folk Fest concert, a special fundraiser for the festival endowment fund.

The rest of the fest boasts what may be the event’s most diverse lineup yet: Arrested Development, Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, Neko Case, Joel Plaskett, Steve Earle, the Wailers, ex-Barenaked Ladies singer Steven Page, Boz Scaggs and Spirit of the West, among many others — assuming the lineup actually matters that much to you.

At this point, the Edmonton summer staple would likely be a sellout regardless of who was booked, a credit to the reputation for excellence that festival producer Terry Wickham, festival staff and their army of volunteers have cultivated over FF’s hallowed 30-year run. Definitions about just what “folk” is have likewise evolved.

“One of the traditions of folk music is that it has always welcomed other musical traditions,” explains Wickham.

“Granted, where the festival is concerned, it’s not always an easy reach. But we’ve always tried to stretch our boundaries artistically and we always will.”

Few people understood the folk fest better, says Wickham, than Edmonton arts writer and booster Gilbert Bouchard who passed away earlier this year.

“I remember driving in my car one day and hearing Gilbert talking about the festival on the radio,” Wickham recalls. “He said something to the effect of it not being just about the music, but about how we’re trying to build a utopia on the Gallagher Park hillside.

“I had never heard it said that way before and I realized I have always been reaching for that. We haven’t had an incident in a decade, no fights nor thefts. We let kids in for nothing and my father, who is 87, will be there this year, so it’s really for everyone. It is Edmonton.”

More from our Sister Sites