Regina Folk Festival – Storytime with Chris!

Regina Folk Festival Finale

Regina Folk Festival Finale

Edmonton, Alberta is host to dozens of annual festivals. There are so many festivals going on year-round that you often have to pick which one you want to go to while you miss two others. A small number of these festivals can be tossed into the “Yeah, Whatever” category, but the majority of them are world-class, attracting huge name performers and massive crowds of people. When I moved from Edmonton back to Regina in 2004, I knew I was coming back to a smaller pond. Less to do, overall, and definitely fewer festivals than Edmonton. I decided not to look at this as a bad thing, though. Rather, I decided I’d make it to as many of the few festivals Regina has to offer as possible. Before I left Regina area in 2001, the Regina Folk Festival was pretty cool, but not really a huge deal in my eyes. When I came back, I didn’t realize it had transformed into an amazing, big and very fun event attracting big-name stars from across the country and the world.

I’ve been going to the Regina Folk Festival every year, since moving back – at times even skipping out on work to catch a performance in the park – and I’ve loved every minute of it. Even when getting rained on.

Here’s a quick look at this year’s festival, through my eyes…

Night One

My day: Rushed home after work, cleaned up, loaded up my festival gear (camera bag, small blanket) and headed out. Only had to wait in line for 10-15 minutes, then found myself a sweet little spot sitting front and center!

Who I came to see: Andrew Bird, Fred Penner

Who blew me away: Shotgun Jimmie – great fun; Etran Finatawa – sounded totally unlike anything else at the festival

Highlights: So many people with smiles on their faces. Bumped into a few people I know. Andrew Bird was just about as strange as I’d pictured him. Overall, it was a great night and perfect way to end the work week.

Best part of the night: Getting my picture taken with Fred Penner!


Night Two

My day: Got to the park around 12:15 and bummed around the market for a while, window-shopping before meeting up with a friend at 1:00. Got some delicious food from Spices of Punjab, sat near Sunlit Stage 1 where Jeffery Straker, Shotgun Jimmie and others were having a blast playing and sharing stories. Things were going fine until it rained – a lot. My friend got called in to work (at Copper Kettle, right beside the park), so I continued about the day, underneath my umbrella, wandering around the market some more, listening to more performances and workshops. Bumped into Dan Mangan and said “Hi.” He was just checking out one of the performances. From 4:00 to 5:00, I hung out at the CJTR tent, where we wrapped up our first ever live broadcast by interviewing Secret Sisters. I didn’t do the interviewing, but I still got them to sign my copy of their record afterward. 🙂 After that, I lined up and hit the main stage for an unforgettable night – including the downpour of rain.

Who I came to see: Taj Mahal, Dan Mangan

Who blew me away: Shakura S’Aida – what a powerhouse performer! She was incredible!

Highlights: Taj Mahal was performing just a few meters in front of me!!! Secret Sisters were a great unexpected treat.

Best part of the night: Northern lights dancing over the stage with shooting stars right before legend Taj Mahal takes the stage. Absolutely incredible experience!


Night Three

My day: I got downtown late (close to 1:00). Met up with some friends, caught some performances together before they had to leave, then hung out at another friend’s tent in the arts market for a while. Topped of the day with some shopping in the market. Bought some gifts and some treats, then hit the enormous line for the main stage, got in, planted myself at front and center again and prepared to be wowed for the final night.

Who I came to see: Coeur de Pirate

Who blew me away: The Sojourners, Aurelio Martinez, Hawksley Workman

Highlights: I had to run to the Cornall Centre for film from Shopper’s Drug Mart and on the way, I caught some of a high-energy performance by Hey Ocean!. What a fantastically fun band!

Best part of the night: Fred Penner hosted on Sunday. He captivates the audience and brings smiles to so many faces while being authoritative, telling us to make sure and clean up the site before we leave because “Uncle Fred says.” I heard more than one person say he stole the show.

Regina Folk Festival Night Three

Coeur de Pirate

Coeur de Pirate

I wish it could last forever. Did you ever see that movie Groundhog Day, with Bill Murray? It was awful, but the point is, he kept waking up and it was the same day, over and over. I hope when I wake up tomorrow morning, and time has somehow reverted back to Friday, so I can go back to Victoria Square Park and see Fred Penner again, and Andrew Bird again, and Etran Finatawa…

Alas, I should just accept the fact that today is the last of the festival and make sure every moment counts!

Let me take a moment to say, ‘Thanks,’ to those who came by the CJTR booth yesterday. It was good to see you and fun to hang out there for a while during Regina Community Radio’s first-ever live broadcast. Did I mention I got to meet Secret Sisters and convince them to sign my new copy of their record, while I was there? What a treat! :-]

Tonight’s main stage schedule is…

6:00pm – 6:45pm THE SOJOURNERS
6:45pm – 7:00pm Hard Ramblers
7:00pm – 7:45pm LIBRARY VOICES
7:45pm – 8:00pm Rah Rah
8:00pm – 8:45pm AURELIO MARTINEZ
8:45pm – 9:00pm Zachary Lucky
9:00pm – 10:00pm COEUR DE PIRATE
10:00pm – 10:15pm Raffle Draw & Fred Penner
10:15pm – 11:15pm HAWKSLEY WORKMAN
11:15pm – 11:30pm FINALE

Once again, I’ll be donning my cool summer fedora – not that it’ll stand out – hats are definitely back in! I’ll also be carrying around my outdated brown camera bag for my outdated film camera and my new backpack bag with Buddha on it (gotta keep things holy). If you think you see me, come say, “Hi.”

Today is your last chance to buy some sweet stuff at the arts market and your last chance to take in over 5 hours of free live music on three stages.

That’s enough from me, for now.

See you there!