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Vancouver Folk Fest Musical Review

Despite grumblings by regular Vancouver Folk Fest fans about the addition of a beer garden this year and fears that the festival was financially in trouble, it still managed to showcase some amazing musicians from around the world.

One of the most memorable performances was on Friday night by Atlanta based hip-hop group [Arrested Development]. When the group that has been performing together for over 15 years took the main stage they woke the crowd up and got everyone dancing. They played a spectacular set of music that was socially conscious yet uplifting. According to the group’s [website] they describe their music as “life music.” Their performance was fantastic and their music is raising consciousness about social issues in our society. Memorable moments from their performance included a tribute to Michael Jackson with an adaptation of Bille Jean and a song dedicated to homelessness.

Also worth mentioning was Canadian singer/songwriter [Kate Reid] who performed several times over the course of the weekend on several of the smaller stages. She became a crowd favourite because of her catchy lyrics about her life as a queer woman in Vancouver. Her folksy style using a guitar and a harmonica was a nice accompaniment to Reid’s smoky vocals. A song off her most recent album I’m Just Warming Up released in June 2009 entitled “Emergency Dyke Project” received a loud round of applause and a lot of smiles.

Country and blues band from Indiana Reverend Peyton’s [Big Damn Band] made a big impression on crowds at several smaller stages over the weekend. This band’s music had everyone on their feet dancing as Reverend Peyton’s wife Breezy Peyton played a washboard. It was hard not to dance with the bluegrass sound of Reverend Peyton’s voice, a harmonica, and stomping feet. With a unique sound this band really lived up to their name and was very fun to watch.

Powerful performances by [d’bi young] a Jamaican- Canadian dub poet were emotionally charged. Using a traditional reggae beat as her background sound young’s voice mesmerized the crowd with her poems about oppression, struggle, and her experiences as a woman. Her poetry was political and triumphant. She moved an entire crowd on one of the smaller stages Sunday afternoon with a beautiful piece entitled “Blood Claat.”

Australian duo [Women in Docs] gave an upbeat performance with a humorous stage presence and some great songs. Their music was lively and folksy and drew large crowds at several of the smaller stages. They played a mix of songs from their three independent albums, the most memorable being “Sail Away” from their newest album Red Wine and Postcards.

Fantastic musicians made the minor hiccups of the weekend seem unimportant. After all, at the end of the day, a music festival is about the music and not politics.
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