All my hipster/greenie/crunchy/urbane pals were all bound for the luminary, venerable Vancouver Folk Fest this past weekend. I turned down extra tickets, rumoured media passes, friendly pleadings and erstwhile invitations cause i already had my weekend fest plans in mind – the Surrey Fusion Fest (see also: Greetings from Fusion Fest – video).
Sure you might think that i missed out on the awesome line-up and beautiful people on idyllic Jericho Beach but i spent scant ducats, saw great bands, ate well, and immersed myself in the ethnic re-mix that is the lower mainland’s super-diverse (and much maligned) municipality. Missed nothing methinks
I made the lengthy transit trek (3 zones for the price of 2 on weekends) from my North Van sanctuary and spent Saturday afternoon/evening at the new Holland Park with my comrade Dan Funboy, and made the following observations:
I am very keen on festivals in general and tend to hang out with the proletariat rather than fancy folks, but i also don’t make it back anywhere near Whalley Exchange these days – cause well, i’ve been there, done that.
But in spite of all the yuppie grumblings from the urban core (many of whom speak of tolerance and diversity while ignoring where it actually happens), this is really where many new Canadians live – and this is where the low-income families can come have fun, where neighbours learn about each other, and where you can enjoy a variety of music you’d otherwise never get to hear. At a thrifty (free) price.
Even a veteran linguist would be challenged to name all the languages overheard and foodies could sample some creative tasty bits and also check out cultural exhibits from each cultural region (not political jurisdiction as Persia, Palestine, and Taiwan were included).
The musical line-up boasted a variety of ethnic and distinctly regular acts from a rock band you might see at a Bridgeview roadhouse (Rocking out while waiting for Salmon – video) to a bass player from the MicMac nation (via New Brunswick) who’s exclaimed that she’s “been in the business for 43 years”.
The Chieftains were the headliners on Saturday night which had a Celtic bent to it with the Connors before them (Introducing The Chieftians – video). The Dublin-based band were joined by some young Canadians who were dancing and fiddling and mugging for the camera with mucho aplomb.
The main Chieftain didn’t care for the cameras on the stage projecting the show onto video screens. The drummer got to sing one and managed not to incite a riot when encouraging people to drink a long with his whiskey song.
The fave for me were Nettwerk recording artists, Nathan. A four piece with a country lilt and multi-instrument creativity. Switching between banjo, accordion and Theremin, acoustic and electric guitars, they sang tales of romance and deceit in a firm tender way, and even played a waltz. I am sucker for a quaver in a voice and i’ve listened to their plaintive, evocative songs on repeat today.
I planned to attend another day at the fest, but a lazy Sunday of watching the first Alpine stage of the Tour de France and unpacking at my new house (in North Van) won out.
Final observation (with my apologies to the do-gooders) while waiting for a bus at the Newton Exchange, listening to Angus (with a his can of Colt 45) ask a guy if the security guard uniform he was wearing was a Coast Guard uniform, i spotted a young woman wearing a shirt with iron-on glitter letters saying, “I was incredible in bed last night and all i got was this lousy t-shirt”
PS I coulda sworn i saw John Chow, the F*ck Art, Make Stats guy leaving as i arrived. Was that you?