Fugitives at Vancouver Folk Music Festival

Vancouver Folk Music Festival Panorama
Originally uploaded by Astro Guy

Any event that starts off with a 400 meter race with birkenstocks, backpacks, blankets, and baby buggies, and ends with an african-beats dance party lit by the stars and a lantern procession is guaranteed to be a good time.

I kicked off the Vancouver Folk Festival on Saturday by taking part in the Birkenstock Shuffle – an impromptu race that begins when the gates open at 9:30 am and masses spill into the festival grounds. The goal: getting to the area in front of the main stage as fast as possible, so you can throw down a blanket or tarp and reserve your small area for the evening concert. I had to push a few old ladies out of my way, but I managed to secure a pretty sweet spot.

The festival this year was awesome. Great weather, great music, and lots of hippy dancing. It was a real scorcher, and I got a great sandal tan. Luckily, the the venue for the Folk Fest is right next to Jericho Beach, so we were able to take a break in the afternoon for a a quick plunge into the cool water of English Bay.

This year’s highlight was discovering the Fugitives – an East Van band with 2 spoken word poets, lead singer on accordion, banjo player, and violinist. I was really impressed with the lyrics, the catchy music, and their abundant energy. I’ve had the privilege of seeing one of the poets, Brendan McLeod, perform at a poetry slam at Café Deux Soleils before, and he rocked my socks. You can listen to their songs and download a few songs or watch a video on YouTube. And if you are lucky enough to be in Winnipeg in July, they will be performing at the Winnipeg Fringe Festival. Definitely check them out, I can almost guarantee an awesome performance. Barbara Adler, the other poet in the group, is also writing a Fringe blog for CBC.

So, I loved the Fugitives on their own, but the most spectacular performance I saw was when the Fugitives were on stage with Hawskley Workman and Ndidi Onukwulu. Everyone was jamming and improvising. Amazing stuff. I also got to see Brendan and Barbara do some spoken word, which was awesome. Other artists I liked: The Wailin’ Jennys (sweet, sweet voices), Geoff Berner (I love accordions), Utah Phillips (the man’s a folk legend and living encyclopedia), and Kutapira (high energy drumming).

More pics from Astro Guy, because I forgot my camera.


  1. Dad writes
    Sounds like you had a good time. I was talking to Jimmy Grabowski, the keyboard guy who took my place in “Revival” and apparently his son is on tour with a band called Sick City. See if you can listen to any of their music and tell me what you think. They’ve just been signed to a record label. They write all their own material.


  2. Accordian
    You love accordian music???? Why didn’t you say so sooner, you could have taken accordian lessons (like all good Ukrainian boy in my era) instead of piano lessons. We just gave Dad’s accordian to Kerry, who claimed it out of the garage sale pile. Perhaps she likes accordian music too! Is the good old accordian making a comeback?


    • Re: Accordian
      I think every stage we watched at the Folk Festival had at least one accordion (banjos were also popular).
      You mean I could have learned to play the accordion instead of piano? That would have been so much cooler (although I probably wouldn’t have thought so at the time).


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