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Winnipeg Folk Festival 2014

The 41st Winnipeg Folk Festival has come and gone.  Once again, an empty field in Bird’s Hill Park was turned into a vibrant community.  We came and we went, but forever we will have the memories. Every year is different but I always leave feeling the same: my head full of music and my heart full of love.

Campground Lineup

The long lineup to get in to the campground is a part of the festival.  Best to relax and enjoy it.

In the tent.

Rest of some sort is usually in order once camp is finally set up.  Rest, and planning.

Long live fun.

“Long live fun…” is a good way to sum up the general attitude towards all aspects of the festival.  Games, art, music, dance, community…long live fun indeed!

Children silhouettes at sunset.

Children gather, making new friends as the sun dips below the prairie horizon.

Wanderers of the festival campground at dusk.

Wanderers of the festival campground at dusk.  This year, new shelters were built as places for gatherings (pictured in the distance here).  Each of these took on a life of their own: be it anything from a web of slacklines for everyone to use to a place for impromptu music jams.

Festival campground at night.

The festival begins early Wednesday morning, but music is limited to Wednesday and Thursday evenings before the daytime stages get going on Friday.  As such, festival campers have plenty of time to creatively fill and give the festival a flavour of their own.  Be it in a quiet circle around the fire…

Festival campground glow bowling.

…or staying up late playing games.  Join in on a game of glow bowling and perhaps even a wandering fiddler will provide a soundtrack.


At night, Pope’s Hill lights up.  Here: fire dancers put on a show that is seen both near and far.

Thom Bargen pop-up coffee shop.

Late nights fuel the morning coffee demand.  Thom Bargen‘s pop-up coffee shop was a well received new addition to the campground!

Festival campground chess.

Games don’t always need to be big.

Piñata fun.

A group of friends throw a Mexican themed party at their campsite.  A homemade turtle piñata for the kids, margaritas for the adults, and a wading pool for everyone!

White dress flowing in field.

Once the music begins however, it draws people out of the campground to gather around the stages.

All systems go.

All systems go.

Celia Woodsmith of Della Mae

Celia Woodsmith warms up main stage with her band, Della Mae.

Danny Barnes banjo

Danny Barnes pushing his banjo to its limits.

Main stage sunset

Main stage lights up as the sun sets behind the crowd.  Often the artists are treated to a beautiful prairie sunset that the crowd, fixated on the entertainment, usually does not notice.

Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite hit the stage

After dark, Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite hit the stage in a flurry of lights, music, and vocals.

Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite

Charlie Musselwhite watches Ben Harper closely as they take turns leading the jam.

Main stage at night

The full moon rises over main stage at night.

Langhorne Slim silhouette

Come Friday morning, big performances are replaced with intimate moments as daytime workshops begin.

Sound crew

Each stage has its own tightly knit crew of volunteers.  These folks work hard to switch over their system for every unique workshop that hits their stage.

Bonnie Paine of Elephant Revival

Bonnie Paine of Elephant Revival making her washboard dance.  As one of my personal favourite music finds this year, I would highly recommend you check out this band.


Shinyribs stomps out an amazing cover of Gin and Bruce that puts a smile on everyone’s face.


Grab someone you love and dance.

Folk sunset

Folk sunset.

The Sheepdogs

The Sheepdogs lay down some blues-tinted rhythms to get the evening crowd moving.

Big Blue at night

Everyone on their feet at Big Blue at night.

Folk Fest exit path

After a long but exciting day, weary feet shuffle along the exit path…

Boy drumming solo

…but the rhythm begins early again the next morning.

Shovels and Rope

Shovels and Rope have the crowd hanging on their every word.

Marc Simard

Marc Simard is one of the many talented creators that make up the Hand-Made Village.  Using recycled, off-cut, and scrap materials (leather, wood, fabric…) he creates unique accessories and art, or as I see it: accessories that are art.

Essence of clarity: water

Water: essential for hot day survival.

Rainy festival

Water: also what mother nature had in store for Saturday.

Drumming up a storm just after the storm

When the initial blast of storm winds hit, seven of us jumped up to brace the backdrop (pictured here behind the drummer) as the band finished what would be their last song.  Music was put on hold until the storm warning passed 30 minutes later.  This drummer from The Wooden Sky was eager to drum up a storm just after the storm.

High spirits in the rain

Despite the rain, people remained in high spirits.

Staying warm in the rain

Blankets morphed from seats into cloaks.

Little Miss Higgins in rubber boots

Even Little Miss Higgins was prepared for the mud on Sunday.

Big Dave McLean hops on stage

Little Miss Higgins spotted local blues legend Big Dave McLean in the crowd enjoying her workshop.  When her turn came around she invited him on stage to sing along to one of his songs.

Workshop jam

Musicians feeding off one another during a workshop jam.

 Patrick Alexandre on the harmonica

Patrick Alexandre on the harmonica.

Joan Baez at the Pete Seeger tribute workshop

Joan Baez, Ani DiFranco, and a crew of other passionate musicians raise their voices at the Pete Seeger tribute workshop.

Sarah Lee Guthree shares Pete Seeger stories

Sarah Lee Guthree shares stories of her friendship with Pete Seeger.

Jake Shimabukuro at Pete Seeger tribute

Though it was Jake Shimabukuro‘s first Winnipeg Folk Festival, he and his ukulele were a welcome and much appreciated part of this special workshop that gathered old Festival friends.

Faces we will see again

Faces we will likely see again (and again) as the festival continues year by year.  From left to right: Ani DiFranco, Joan Baez, Sarah Lee Guthrie, and Johnny Irion.

August 6, 2014 - 11:11 am

Marc Neufeld - Fantastic pictures!

August 6, 2014 - 12:43 pm

Courtney Rae Jones - Love the photos! I missed out on folk fest this year, but your photos made it feel like I was there.

August 6, 2014 - 10:07 pm

Karenia - What a lovely synopsis of one person’s experience of Folk Fest. I’m glad I got to share a few of those moments with you. My favourite shot… the rubber boots on stage, the sound booth and Pope’s Hill at night. Elephant Revival was also my favourite discovery for this year’s fest.

August 7, 2014 - 12:47 am

Dua Hamed - Great shots that accompanied a flood way of memories. Thanks for sharing!

August 7, 2014 - 9:54 am

David - Glad you enjoyed these folks.

@Courtney: I missed running into you at the festival this year! Europe though, is a good excuse. Hope you’re having a good trip.

September 1, 2014 - 10:22 am

Ivor L - The Folk Festival seen through your talented eyes behind the camera. I could almost hear the music. Many thanks, David!

September 3, 2014 - 10:57 am

Sheldon Emberly - Incredible photo essay David! Incredible images! Thanks so much for sharing these.

Postcard from the Winnipeg Folk Festival

Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite Postcard

Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite killing it on main stage at the 41st Winnipeg Folk Festival.

August 3, 2014 - 11:57 am

Chris - What a jam! Are you going to post other photos from this years festival?

August 4, 2014 - 6:50 pm

David - Hi Chris. You bet. I am in the midst of captioning and organizing my choices into a story. Check back on Wednesday and I should have something up for you.

A glimpse of New York City

This is New York, or at least a glimpse of it.  In a city this dense, it feels that one might never explore all of her nooks and crannies, so here I’ll focus on the city itself.  A post on the culture of food and drink will be saved for another time on Liquid Meets Solid.

NYC Approach

First sight of New York City.  This moment had a strange excitement to it that isn’t always there when arriving in a new city.  There is an immediate sense of familiarity, probably from the city’s prominent place in western culture.

Jersey City shore

Flying into Newark, we spent a couple nights in Jersey City.  Located just across the Hudson River from New York City, there are beautiful views of west Manhattan’s iconic skyline all along the shore.

Hudson River fish evidence

Evidence that there is still life in the Hudson River.

Statue of Liberty

Obligatory Lady Liberty photo, from Liberty Park.

Freedom Tower in the clouds

The peak of the Freedom Tower comes in and out of view high up in the rolling clouds.

NYC subway

The subway system proved to be a good way to get around.  A quick ride through the PATH tunnel and we found ourselves in the bustle of Manhattan proper…

Brooklyn brownstone houses

…and from there it was just a short (albeit disorienting) ride to Brooklyn.  Emerging from the underground after a twisting, unfamiliar route tends to throw off one’s sense of direction.  Here, we dropped our bags in a classic brownstone and set up base camp for the rest of the trip.

Fresh eggs

One of the many charms of our new home was fresh eggs from the backyard.

Backyard chicken coop

The egg creators…

Breakfast in the sun

…and the egg cooker.  Most mornings we enjoyed breakfast in our host’s sunny backyard.  It was wonderful to have a sanctuary to come home to after long days exploring the city.

Central Park entrance sign

Central Park was a popular destination for locals and tourists alike, but I imagine it’s only the tourists that would get lost: be sure to get your bearings upon entering Central Park, as it’s easy to get turned around on its many winding trails.

Central Park sheep meadow

Grass and sky, people and buildings.  Central Park is right in the center of bustling Manhattan.  Opened in 1857, it is a remarkable transformation of 778 acres of swampland into a much appreciated refuge.

Central Park Carousel

Despite the modern culture takeover, bits of New York City’s past are still scattered around the city.  Here, a carousel from Coney Island’s heyday is still used, though now it resides in Central Park.

Metropolitan Museum Entrance

At the eastern edge of Central Park stands the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Indicative of the collection within the walls, incredible pieces of art stand above the entrance.  Every nook and cranny is packed with a treasure here…

Metropolitan Museum Map

…and there are a lot of nooks and crannies!  In the entire time we spent here we only saw two small sections of the museum: the Lost Kingdoms exhibit and the Japanese wing.  It seems to be a central theme of New York: there is so much to see, but you never will see it all.

Lone people wander the collections.

This labyrinth is a perfect place to wander in wonder all by yourself, and let your imagination take you all over the world.

Almost Manhattanenge - Taxi in Manhattan

Most days, street level in Manhattan is shrouded in shadows of looming buildings.  Twice a year, on what is known as Manhattanhenge, the sun aligns with the east-west streets and lights up the streets at sunset.  This photo was taken at sunset three days before Manhattanhenge, and you can see hints of the light that will emanate from the west.

Fleet Week in NYC

Active military ships recently deployed in overseas operations dock for some fun every year during Fleet Week, and this time New York City was the port of choice.  It wasn’t uncommon to see sailors wandering the streets in their garb (or to have a local girl walking hand-in-hand wearing one of their hats)!

Times Square

People and lights of Times Square.

Times Square Photographers

The slow-motion video ads above and bustling crowds below were an odd dichotomy.  I found myself more interested in the people than the lights and advertising.

Times Square - Fun Family Photo

Seriously, Times Square is a great place for people watching.

Times Square to Coney Island

Foot weary, we hopped on the subway to escape to Coney Island and take a break from the big city.

Swing amusement park ride

Coney Island feels like a place that is stuck in time.

Old and Modern Technology

Upon closer examination however, there are blends of old and modern technology.

Painting the Tilt-a-whirl sign

Still, that old attention to detail prevails.

Fishinig on Coney Island

Beyond the amusement parks, boardwalk, and beach is the pier.  Residents push their carts, pedal their bicycles and tote their fishing rods, lining the edges to try their hand at catching some lunch.

Superstorm Sandy Relief Tile Mural Project

Birds feed next to a Superstorm Sandy Relief Tile Mural Project.  Coney Island was hit hard by Hurricane Sandy in 2012.  The indomitable spirit of its residents is evidenced here: in this particular project seniors involved in community rebuilding each created a tile to contribute to this art installation one year after the hurricane.

The Rockefeller Building

After a meandering afternoon on Coney Island, back to the big city we went, particularly the Rockefeller Building – 30 Rock for all of you fans of the television show.  The top of this building is recommended as the best rooftop lookout in New York City.  Moreover, I would add that it is well worth paying the extra $10 to take the hour-long guided tour around the neighbourhood: there is a lot of history and art to this part of New York, and it is great to have someone share its stories.

Wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times.

“Wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times.” -Isaiah 33:6
The immortalization of this Bible verse above one of the Rockefeller entrances is indicative of the optimism and sincerity that people felt about the emergence of radio and television communication.  If they were still around, the founders might frown upon what kind of things are being glorified on television these days.

Turn to clear vision

Turn to clear vision.

Top of the Rock - Overlooking Central Park

After a tour of Rockefeller Centre, we enjoy the rooftop view.  From above, it is even more evident how Central Park defines Manhattan.

Empire State Building in distance

The Empire State Building draws the eyes.

Top of the Rock - Looking out to Empire State Building

Looking from one rooftop to another.

Vertical Panorama from the Top of the Rock

Buildings sprouting up in every direction.

View on Central Park at night

As the sun falls, the city lights appear.

NYC skyline at night

After walking the streets for many days, getting above it all helps give perspective on its sheer density.

Brooklyn ferry

Impressed but overwhelmed by Manhattan, we spent some time exploring Brooklyn.  A ferry took us from one Brooklyn port to another, affording a view of Manhattan from the east side.

Love locks on fence

Love locks and the tall masts of Manhattan.

Brooklyn Bridge walkway

A pedestrian walkway over the Brooklyn Bridge from which to enjoy our last glimpse of the big city.

Brooklyn Bridge view of Manhattan

The yellow taxicabs and skyline that define New York.

Brooklyn Bridge Panorama

One final panoramic look at Manhattan from the Brooklyn Bridge.

Homeward bound flight

Homeward bound for a city that seems smaller than when we last left it.

July 23, 2014 - 7:21 am

Karenia - Interesting photo essay… it does seem like a place that would overwhelm. My favourite image (although one of the simpler ones) was the fish sign with the real fish overlayed.

August 4, 2014 - 1:43 pm

Sheldon Emberly - I really need to get to NYC sometime! Awesome blog David! Love the cityscapes made as night was falling!

The road to California: Desert.

Heading south from Montana, mountains give way to plains, plains give way to canyons, and finally the canyons give way to desert.  Elevation drops, temperature rises, and RVs start to fill up the campgrounds everywhere.

Desert edge at sunrise.

After spending a while in the mountains, the desert sunrise was a happy surprise.  Big skies here, just like on the prairies.

Runaway truck ramp. 1/2 mile.

Continuing south past Salt Lake City, Utah, we were surprised by the long steep grades on the highways. Every few miles were runaway truck ramps – emergency exits so that trucks that ran into brake problems could run themselves into a large pile of sand, stopping a little more gracefully than the alternative of reaching mach speeds as they continued downwards on the never-ending road.

Ground opens to canyons.

Then, all of a sudden the ground opened up into canyons carved by ancient rivers. It was amazing how quickly the landscape changed throughout Utah; every hour of driving, completely different scenery.

"New" luggage at Scipio Merc.

“New” luggage at Scipio Merc.  A random stop at the only shop in Scipio (population: 80) yielded new luggage for me.  One of them would eventually necessitate a reupholstery project, but otherwise these relics were in great shape.  “Ms. Pierson” of Salt Lake City (the old luggage tag still had her address on it) took good care of them in their previous lives.

Summer is for family road trips.

A boy takes a photo of the meandering road that now slips through Spotted Wolf Canyon.  For years, this edge of the San Rafael Reef blocked explorers, the railroad, pretty much everyone except the few who were able to navigate its slot canyons.  A massive undertaking n the 1970s made this 8-mile stretch of road a reality.  Engineers and surveyors used harnesses and ropes to work as much as 400 feet off the canyon floor during the three year excavation.

Entering Arches National Park.

Entering Arches National Park, Utah.

Varied desert landscape.

Again, I never expected the desert landscape to be so varied.

Late light, driving through the desert.

In reality, driving distances often are much longer than they appear on the map, especially when taking scenic routes.  As the sun set, we were unable to find anywhere to pitch our tent – the campground was full of RVs.

Desert portrait against stone.

Trying not to worry too much about where we’d spend the night, we still took advantage of the beautiful waning light.  Arches is set up to be a great place to see from your car, with short hikes off the road to various attractions.  Normally these would be packed, but since it was late in the day, people were few and far between.  There is something very humbling about walking through this extreme landscape.

Emerging from slot canyon at sunset.

Emerging from a sandstone slot canyon at sunset, we decided to roll into Moab, a small town a few minutes from Arches.  With its bright lights blazing through our dusty windshield, we were hopeful in finding a hotel room for the night.  Stumbling into the closest Super 8, the manager gave us last room in the place, at a late night discount.  And what a suite: with a living room, internet, air conditioning, a bathtub to clean our weary feet (and do our laundry too!), and a bed, it felt like a palace after weeks on the road.

Wilson Arch at noon.

Wilson Arch at noon.  That’s right, we slept in.

Hog Spring oasis.

This spot of green is Hog Spring Oasis, Utah.  It is amazing how so much life can survive on just a little water.  I would have loved to explore this area more, but it was very remote and not well marked.  Best to come back with a map one day.


Ancient petroglyphs.

Forest above the desert.

Approaching Bryce Canyon, Utah, we were again surprised by a lush forest: in gaining just a little bit of elevation, the climate changed dramatically.

Caution: stay left.

Caution: stay left.

Desert, sky, and a winding road.

Desert, sky, and a winding road.

Bryce Canyon at night.

After a late night camp setup, our first glimpse of Bryce Canyon was well after dark.  We headed over to Sunset Point with our headlamps to see what we could see.  To the human eye, it was nothing but black.  But with a long exposure on my camera we were able to glimpse what lay beyond the edge of the canyon on the back of the little LCD screen.

Bryce Canyon, night and day.

Bryce Canyon, night and day.

Bryce Amphitheater.

Looking up along the Wall Street section of the Navajo Trail.

Douglas fir tree in slot canyon.

A Douglas fir tree reaches for sunlight high above the slot canyon.

Zion-Mt. Carmel Tunnel window.

Next stop: Zion National Park, Utah, and its towering canyon walls that can be glimpsed through a window in the Zion-Mt. Carmel Tunnel.

Zion National Park road.

This road is incredible.

Choose your walking stick.

If you take a shuttle to the Temple of Sinawava, the furthest stop in Zion’s vehicle restriction area, you will find a nicely groomed trail along the riverside.  After a couple miles, a set of stairs leads into the river and a sign warns you of the flash flood forecast.  This is the bottom of The Narrows, and the point where you choose a walking stick to help you ford your way up the slot canyon from here.

Walking The Narrows.

Happy to be out of the car and on our feet.  After days in the desert, the cool water was much appreciated.

Hiking The Narrows.

Being late in the day, and with the light fading quickly, we had The Narrows almost completely to ourselves.

Deer approaches in The Narrows.

On our way out we stopped for a quiet moment as a deer approached us.

Deer in The Narrows.

The ardent hiker came quite close as he passed by.

The road to Death Valley.

Onward to Death Valley, California.

Car temperature rising.

Death Valley was experiencing record temperatures, and we crossed through during the high heat of the day.  Combined with the daunting warning sign of no services over the next 200 miles of extremity, or some ridiculous number like that, we drove very carefully and kept a close watch on the car gauges.  Here, the outside temperature maxed out at 48 Celsius.

Badwater Basin.

After hours of driving and seeing only two other vehicles, we were relieved to come upon people at Badwater Basin.  This salt flat is the lowest point in the western hemisphere at 282 feet below sea level.

Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, wide.

Given the heat, we didn’t stop and get out of the car much in Death Valley.  Even in the car the heat was near unbearable since we couldn’t drive with the air conditioning on or risk overheating the motor.  This is the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, the only stop we made for a short hike.

Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, footprints.

I have heard motorcyclists describe a hot wind before, but here was the first place I experienced it.  The idea is that when the temperature rises past a certain point, the effect of the wind switches from being cooling to heating.  At 48 Celsius and with an 80 km/h wind, it felt like we were in a convection oven.

Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, abstract.

But beauty tends to go hand in hand with extremity.  One day I will have to go back and spend a longer time in this National Park.  Besides the two main roads, much of this place is inaccessible unless you have a 4×4 with a few spare tires, or the will to hike it on foot (night hikes may be the solution).


Out of Death Valley and into the California’s Central Valley, a random intersection stop amidst seemingly endless fruit orchards yielded the best burritos that have ever graced our lips.  Tony’s Tacos: eating with the Mexican field workers was definitely one of the best roadside stops of the entire trip.  Oddly, the name tag on the fellow working the truck read “Rick”.  It will forever be a mystery who really served us.

Previous: Mountains.
Next: Land of the Giants. (coming soon!)