Live at the Winnipeg Folk Festival 2017.

Another year, another festival.

Over the years, the Winnipeg Folk Festival has become a point of confluence for the people in my circles. Despite life having taken us in so many directions – detours rooting from children, careers, and the plethora of other catalysts for change – we always come back together for this one weekend every year. We return not just the location, but a safe place for expression, creativity, and being. With all that’s going on in the world, cultivating spaces like this is more important than ever.

Sitting with some friends the other day, we were trying to count the festival years that we have behind us. A blur in the memory, I was able to number five years working as a photographer but I couldn’t put a firm number to the years beyond that. This is interesting to me.

The fluidity of memory is a beautiful thing, but so are the moments immortalized in photographs. Subject, composition, focus, light, and gesture…ultimately, all the elements chosen to be in the final still frame embody a feeling. It makes me glad to have an ongoing body of work with these festival photographs I create that bring a stillness to the otherwise ephemeral; firm points of reflection for both myself and all those I share them with. These thoughts stem from the latest episode I released for the Contemplative Creative podcast, which happens to turn the gaze upon the topic of cultivating perspective. So much of our growth is dependent upon the process of reflection.

All that said, here are some moments from the five days spent in this year’s popup village of friendly creativity.

Family wandering through the Winnipeg Folk Festival fields at sunset

Returning to the festival fields.

Hammocks in the Main Stage field

Hanging around main stage, watching the sun set over stars.
Side note: this image has been picked up and will be featured in an upcoming print photography book that Travel Manitoba is releasing to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday!

Hoop dancer at the Winnipeg Folk Festival

Shanley Spence walks the thin line that separates the crowd from the stage, hoop dancing to the rhythms of DJ Shub.

Hands in the air - crowd point of view

Infectious rhythms move through the crowd. 
Check out this video I shot of Choir Choir Choir leading a singalong with this crowd of “Lovers in a Dangerous Time” with special guest Bruce Cockburn.

Chali 2na rapping at Snowberry Stage

Chali 2na weaves together lyrical poetry under the canopy.

Barefoot musician on stage

No shoes, no problem.

Logan Mckillop performing with Carly Dow

Logan Mckillop and and Carly Dow casually string together an intimate set.

Ten Strings and a Goat Skin - silhouetted against the crowd

Ten Strings and a Goat Skin – add ’em up: six on a guitar, four on the fiddle, and then the drum – silhouetted against the crowd.

Shady Grove under a hot folk fest sun

The set stage.

The view from the sound booth

Working hard behind the scenes. There are plenty of people putting in a lot of effort to make sure the festival runs smoothly. If you don’t notice them, that means they’re doing their job well;  all the same, these unsung heroes deserve so much credit.

Trees silhouetted against a baby blue and cloudless sky.

Hot summer festival days with baby blue, clear skies.

Painted blocks in the family area

Folk Fest iconography painted by kids form an ever-growing collage.

Elder Mae Louise Campbell - Water ceremony at the Winnipeg Folk Festival

Elder Mae Louise Campbell welcomes artists and visitors alike to the festival with a traditional water ceremony.

Stingray Young Performers Program with mentor JD Edwards

Connecting elders with the next generation, these up and coming musicians were brought under wing with mentor JD Edwards. This tradition of the Young Performers Program gets at the heart of the festival, ensuring that it will continue for many generations to come.
From left to right: Walking on Ropes, Mitchell Schimnowski, Lhasa, Taylor Janzen, Aurora Stouffer, JD Edwards.

Walking to Spruce Hollow stage

With seven stages all constantly hosting amazing talent, everyone’s experience is a choose-your-own-adventure kind of happening.

Margaret Glaspy at the Winnipeg Folk Festival

Margaret Glaspy sends her lone voice into the crowd with the rockin’ sound of her electric guitar.

Foy Vance silhouette against the crowd

Foy Vance plays to a captive audience.

Cris Derksen playing cello at the Winnipeg Folk Festival

Cris Derksen plays her cello with mastery; the only indication of the cast on her right hand being the story she shared. A couple of days earlier, she was walking from her hotel and exploring downtown Winnipeg. Holding her phone out in front of her as a compass to help her get her bearings, a large piece of metal suddenly fell from the sky and hit her outstretched hand. The wind had knocked it loose from a construction site 23 floors up and she was lucky it did not end up worse. For that, and her dedication to her music, we are all grateful.

Percussion for Wesli

Expression takes many forms (and instruments).

Foy Vance singing and playing piano

Foy Vance singing with the kind of soulful force that can only come from growing up with a preacher father. 
Check out this video I shot of Foy singing “Homebird” across the stage to Margaret Glaspy.

Rhythm in the percussion section


Ten Strings and a Goat Skin at the Winnipeg Folk Festival

Ten Strings and a Goat Skin find that foot stomping rhythm that is the foundation of Eastern Canadian folk music.
Side note: this band was my favourite new music discovery of this year’s festival and I would highly recommend checking them out.
Also, check out this video I shot of a Celtic jam they performed with Rura and Paul McKenna.

Moving to the music

Desi Sub Culture and Chali 2na & The House of Vibe pick the crowd up from their seats in one last workshop.

The performers' final bow

Show done and the instruments tucked away, the performers take a final bow to an appreciative crowd.