theresa tayler/metro calgary


Kerry Clarke, Calgary Folk Music Festival artistic director, takes a break from putting the final touches on the main stage at Prince’s Island Park yesterday.


This year’s Calgary Folk Music Festival is bound to be a little bit country, and a little bit rock ‘n’ roll.

The final preparations are being put into place on Prince’s Island Park today as festival organizers gear up for the 28th annual outdoor music event, which begins tomorrow evening with headliner Rufus Wainwright, and runs through Sunday.

Other top acts for the festival include Great Big Sea, The Sadies, Hawksley Workman, Neko Case and Don McLean.

Kerry Clarke, folk fest artistic director, says the key to the festival’s success lies in making sure to book headliners that have wide appeal.

“We’re not looking for all roots or folk headliners,” Clarke says. “We’re only looking to sell about 12,000 tickets a day — not sell out a space like the Saddledome.”

Last year’s lineup included acts such as funkster Macy Gray, Calgary-bred songstress Feist, Canadian indie rockers Broken Social Scene, as well as celebrated song writer Kris Kristofferson.

“We run the gamut, booking people who’ve had really long careers to people who are just starting out,” Clarke says.

Saturday and Sunday’s side stage shows will include jam improvs with acts such as Alberta-based bands the Polyjester and Agnostic Mountain Gospel Choir; Jamaica To Toronto, a reggae group from Ontario; and the Squirrel Nut Zippers, a retro swing revival group from the United States.

More than 65 artists from nine countries will be at the park this weekend on seven stages. Children under 13 get in free. There’s an international craft market with plenty of food vendors that feature tastes from around the world.

Festival artists’ CDs can be found in the record tent, and cold beverages in the tree-shaded beer garden.

Clarke says the festival has a variety of musical genres including blues, Celtic, traditional music, roots, global grooves, dub, bluegrass, funk, country, hip-hop, R&B, alternative and more.

The main stage show runs tomorrow night through Sunday from 5:30 p.m. onward. On Saturday and Sunday, several performances will be taking place during the day throughout the park’s six stages.

Tickets are still available for tomorrow ($45), Friday ($50) and Sunday ($50). Saturday is sold out.