It’s not who you listen to, it’s who you know.
I was at the Winnipeg Folk Festival on Friday and meeting so many people I knew, was every bit as interesting as listening to the performers. You can hear some great music at the Folk Festival but it’s clear what keeps people coming back year after year is the chance to see so many folks they know. I could barely walk anywhere without turning around and seeing someone familiar. After living abroad for six years the Folk Festival was the perfect place to renew old acquaintances, catch up with former colleagues and touch base with friends.
I was struck by the intergenerational nature of the festival. We visited with our friends’ children and bumped into our children’s friends, many of them with toddlers of their own in tow.
We discovered all kinds of our relatives were at the Birds Hill site.
My cousin Carol was selling her unique crafts in the Hand-Made Village area. Her brother, my cousin Gerry, was helping her out and so we got to visit with him too.
Another cousin and her family were working as serving personnel at one of the food booths.
My brother and his partner offered us a place to sit on their nearly front row tarp in the main stage area.
We had refreshments with our younger son and his fiancée who were spending the weekend before their wedding enjoying the Folk Festival.
We chatted with two retired couples both our former Hanover School Division teaching colleagues. They were working as volunteers at the festival and had earned free admittance and meals in the process. When you are living on a pension, being a volunteer is a great way to enjoy the Folk Festival and still stay within your budget.
Although we hadn’t planned ahead of time to meet anyone at the Folk Festival we spotted our good friend John from Steinbach and ended up having supper and enjoying a concert with him.
Just like the Folk Festival experience is all about relationships it was the music about relationships that caught my attention.
Performer Royal Wood sang a moving song called Lady in Blue about a friend’s grandfather who dies of a broken heart just weeks after his wife of many years passes away.
I laughed at David Bromberg’s rendition of I’ll Take You Back. It is about a man jilted by his girlfriend. She leaves him for another guy. When she tires of her new love she wants to go back to her former partner but he will have none it. Bromberg sings sarcastically…….. “Ill take you back when rattle snakes have knees, and money grows on trees”. “I’ll take you back when preachers on TV start sending cash to me.” “I’ll take you back when your Mama’s too tired to talk and the dead get up to walk.” Bromberg went on and on, each line becoming more creative and funny than the next.
Matt Anderson sang a song about what to do when a friend has a girlfriend nobody likes and Chic Gamine advised us to “put your searchlight on if you are looking for love.”
Welsh performer Martyn Joseph said “The job of any great song is to tell you, you’re not alone in the world.” I think that same sort of reasoning also explains why the Folk Festival is such a success. Spending a weekend at Birds Hill Park with a host of other people, many of whom have familiar faces, is a friendly affirmation that you are certainly not alone in the world.