Vamp's Calgary Folk Music Festival picks
It’s that time of the year again, where music festivals can be found far and wide and folk music runs rampant in basically every city. Unlike Sled Island, this is not my first year at Calgary Folk Music Festival. Last year I had the pleasure of seeing a few of my favourite acts, such as Reuben & the Dark and Shakey Graves. This year, CFMF hasn’t disappointed, and I will yet again get to see some of my favourite musicians. With 75 brilliant acts, it’s hard to narrow it down to a list, so here are five that I personally can’t wait to see.
Bonnie Prince Billy + Bitchin’ Bajas
Explain Americana and you can explain Bonnie Prince Billy + Bitchin’ Bajas. Finding their influences from folk, bluegrass, country, R&B, and blues, they manage to produce music that exists outside of all those genres as something of it’s own accord. The alt-folk that this group creates is a sound that is almost as motivational as their song titles. Check out some of the tracks off their album Epic Jammers and Fortunate Little Ditties, such as “Your Hard Work is About to Pay Off. Keep On Keeping On” or “Your Whole Family Are Well.”
Michael Bernard Fitzgerald
CFMF coins Michael Bernard Fitzgerald as a “local treasure”, and I can’t disagree. We at Vamp are no strangers to Fitzgerald; as one of our own even works with him on his social media. But his spot on this list isn’t a shameless plug, MBF truly makes the best kind of folky singer/songwriter music that I love. Mix that with a dash of rock and you get his newest album, I Wanna Make It With You. Check out the title track here, or listen to another favourite “Follow” from the album Yes.
Cat Power has a special place in my heart. When I learned how to play my first instrument, the ukulele, Cat Power’s version of “Sea of Love” was the only song I knew. Now I know Cat Power for her own work, and her latest album Sun with my personal favourite track, “Manhattan”. Her music can be described as electronic with a folk-rock foundation. The perfect balance of these genres with a singer-songwriter vibe, Cat Power makes the kind of music that really speaks to your soul.
Oh Pep! makes music that is self-described by their name; pep with an exclamation point. Using instruments such as violin and mandolin, the duo bring folk pop music with bluegrass roots that can only be described as bright. It’s a charming mix of certain elements that make for an interesting sound. Do yourself a favour and listen to their album Stadium Cake, or listen to my personal favourite track, “Rest Assured” off the album Living.
The Weather Station
A folk take on experimental, The Weather Station can be described as ethereal, dreamy, and soothing. If you’re looking for music that can sing you to sleep, look no further. Hailing from Toronto, singer/songwriter Tamara Lindeman writes complex lyrics that fill you with a sense of familiarity. If you’re looking for music that is minimalist, intimate, and gentle, look no further. Check out her most recent album, Loyalty, and listen to my personal favourite track “Way It Is, Way It Could Be”.