Fusion Festival: Where the Folk are the Audience


Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008 — 11:47am PST
Comments 9

The following is a guest post by DaveO – you can catch a multitude of links to hise various projects on his website and more video on his Blip channel.

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).

the festival grounds
The festival grounds
Photo credit: uncleweed on Flickr

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:

  • No LuluLemon pants in the whole place, none
  • No whiny West-enders rolling their eyes about “the bridge and tunnel crowd”
  • No small dogs, nor matching small purses to match
  • Plenty of police but no incidents i saw (except for two cops rolling over curbs and gardens in quads, WTF?)
  • whalley little leaguers
    Whalley Little League
    Photo credit: uncleweed on Flickr
  • Surrey heritage signs celebrating Whalley Little League, early settlers on Old Yale Road etc. were cool bits of edu-tainment
  • Few trees in the expansive park – A nice fountain but not enough trees
  • Accessible viewing areas for wheelchair rollers to see the bands on the mainstage
  • Some real characters dancing and roaming the grounds but everyone was allowed to let their freak flag fly without hassle (Dancing to the Peruvian Pan Pipes – video)
  • Surrey is really making an effort to do something to provide a sense of belonging and community
  • inteprid reporters
    Reportage for the People!
    Photo credit: uncleweed on Flickr

    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.

    I spent my entire $11 on food tickets (plus someone gave Dan 3 more gratis) and, with Dan surveying the menu guide, we foraged the international booths for the following tasty snacks:

  • Peruvian empanada (like a Cornish pasty with meat and olives)
  • Polish apple cake
  • First Nations salmon (somehow i don’t think the dill sauce and rice pilaf was traditional but sure tasty)
  • El Salvador tacos al pastor and papusa
  • Masala tea from India
  • winner of tasty prize
    Winner of a tasty prize
    Photo credit: uncleweed on Flickr

    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”.

    surrey - a gleaming metropolis
    Gleaming metropolis
    Photo credit: uncleweed on Flickr

    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.

    nathan - oh nathan
    Nathan the band
    Photo credit: uncleweed on Flickr

    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?

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    9 comments

    1. Raul says:

      And in an utterly terrible coincidence, I happened to go to the Fusion Festival on the Sunday rather than the Saturday! AWWW. No worries, I am sure I’ll see DaveO very, very soon. MANY HUGS!!!

      And for the record, I am definitely down if you present “Forget Presentations, Make Conversations!” 🙂

    2. Brad says:

      I agree with most of your post however I do take a little offense to the “and this is where the low-income families can come have fun”…

      Just because people don’t live in Vancouver doesn’t mean they are low-income. Many people who CHOOSE to live out here make very high-income, we just choose to live and raise families in areas where we can have our kids play hockey on the streets and have backyards that are big enough for a dog to run around in.

    3. Connie says:

      Didn’t hear much on the news about Fusion Fest, but talked to a pal who went Sat nite and had a GREAT time. Of course, if there’d been a stabbing or something, it would have made the cover of the Province on Sunday.

      Easy, Brad – if you look at the stats, there are lots of po’ folk in Surrey. I was one of them once, so I know.

    4. Mike says:

      Growing up in the ‘burbs of Toronto, I understand completely where you’re coming from.

      That being said, it’s hard to take your defense of the “much maligned municipality” seriously when you’re just as eager to mock Vancouver. You quipped:

      “No LuluLemon pants in the whole place, none.”
      “No whiny West-enders rolling their eyes about “the bridge and tunnel crowd”
      “No small dogs, nor matching small purses to match”

      I was at the Folk Festival on the weekend and didn’t notice anyone matching the above descriptions. Actually, we ran into friends from Kamloops (who don’t fit any of the stereotypes above) and had a great time.

      That being said, the rest of your post was very interesting and has definitely put the Fusion Festival on my list of events to check out next year.

    5. Kevan says:

      Dude, my wife and I saw the band Nathan at the Calgary Folk Fest last summer. Likewise: we bought the CD and have been telling our friends non-stop. They’re a great, understated act. And super cute.

    6. DaveO says:

      No offense meant to un-poor people in Surrey – remember i grew up there playing road hockey at the end 95Ave with middle class parents (real estate and univ prof). And much of my family still live there i the heart of Panorama Ridge and like it. The point is, … if you haven’t much money, you can go enjoy 3 days of entertainment for almost no money. Not the case for other fests. And that is a good thing. IF you have excess funds, you can afford the day out to Jericho or wherever. Many in Surrey cannot – especially families.

      Also, i heart the Van Folk Fest (and don’t mind what Lulu Lemon pants do for the ladies :-)), but Surrey gets lots of flack for being lame while idyllic areas like Kits get a pass, so … i am taking cheap shots to compensate and even out the balance – really aiming the low blows at Yaletown to be honest but hard to work YT into this post to make fun of so made it multi-purpose nouveau-yuppie stereotypes to cover all bases. And note that i ended with a couple of Surrey stereotype reinforcements to keep it fair and balanced.

      And don’t worry, i am an old hippie and know VFF is a meeting place for people from all around BC and beyond, and full of lovely people having fun, including many of my friends who come from far and wide. I mentioned VFF as contrast to Fusion Fest – and you must admit they are two very different audiences and pricetags.

      Nathan rules – heart-rendering without being syrupy.

      Now, who’s gonna make fun of North Van and my new neighborhood? Start with bikes which costs more than cars, excess lycra and funny helmets, $2000/mo. rent for “starter homes,” and manic coffee snobs. Discuss.

    7. Brad says:

      No offense to anybody… just making a comment.

      If you calculate numbers, I bet you there are more “poor” people per capita living in Vancouver than there are in Surrey… yet people always label Surrey as poor, or for people who can’t afford to live in Vancouver.

    8. …and what’s wrong with being labelled “poor” anyway?

    9. […] article was written as a “Special Dispatch” for Miss604.com - published in July 2008 while Rebecca and John were elsewhere. Cross-posting here so i […]

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