Full circle at Winnipeg Folk Festival 2018.

Every year as I return from breezy festival fields to my warm urban apartment, I bring home with me a sense of renewal.

The official vision of the Winnipeg Folk Festival is to cultivate experiences of discovery and learning through the celebration of people and music; however, a quieter goal that has been shared with me over these past few years is that of creating a safe space in a troubled world. In both cases, these aims address larger social values, and it is in this that I truly feel that this festival sets itself apart from the current plethora of others out there. The resulting action from these idealistic undertones is something I am happy to be a part of and it never ceases to refill my cup of hopefulness.

So here again I find myself sitting on the far side of a worked festival with more than a handful of memories to sift through; for the organizers, for myself, and for you. Between assignments and whimsical wandering, a few particular stories caught my eye which I would like to share with you today – all of which have a sort of circular nature to them.

A circle has no beginning and end. It is a powerful symbol of continuity and connectedness. This supports that, and is a result of that which came before. Most things are cyclic in life, at least in their healthiest forms, and the creative life is no exception. We build upon what came before, and in turn pass along the lessons we’ve learned to the next generation.

The Winnipeg Folk Festival recognizes this in the community that gathers in its fields, and endeavours to nurture growth. One clear example of this is the Young Performers Program. Every year, established musicians are paired up with aspiring young apprentices to mentor them in their songwriting and performance. After spending some time incubating new ideas, they step onto the stage together to share the fruits of their collaborative time with the world. For some this is their first chance of being in the spotlight, but the intent is that it is anything but the last time.

This year, the event was kicked off by a band born at the festival – both literally as babies, and again as musicians in the Young Performers Program some years later. Now graduates with more than a bit of experience under their belts, they stepped onto the main stage in front of the folk community. Following in the steps of those that came before them, in this moment things came full circle for Lucas and Madeleine Roger (of the band Roger Roger).

Evening light as guests arrive to the Winnipeg Folk Festival

Festival goers cast the first long shadows on festival fields as they arrive Thursday evening.

Roger Roger kick off the 45th Winnipeg Folk Festival

Roger Roger steps onto the main stage to officially kick off the 45th Winnipeg Folk Festival.

Friends on tarp at the Winnipeg Folk Festival main stage

Friends come together on their tarps. Wherever individual paths diverted during the past year, a lot of folkies return to pick up where they left off.

FolkFest art sign - kids play together

Folkfest is a place for unstructured play time…

Prairie labyrinth at the Winnipeg Folk Festival at sunset

…though labyrinth cut in grass provides a bit of structure for play.

Round Dance at the Winnipeg Folk Festival

Everyone joins in for a round dance following Friday morning’s traditional welcoming ceremony led by elder Sherry Copenace.

The Fortunate Ones perform with Young Performers at the WInnipeg Folk Festival

The Fortunate Ones teach their young performers the important art of taking the show to the grass to finish things off right when they ran out of stage time.

Fortunate Ones with Young Performers Program at the Winnipeg Folk Festival

The Fortunate Ones celebrating a successful performance with the young performers they mentored: Liam Allan, David Delorme, Scott Dick, Erika Fowler, Lindsay Thomson, Anna M Johnson, Ben Stopfel, Kira Gregory (back row – left to right)

Huun-Huur-Tu at the Winnipeg Folk Festival

From the other side of the world, Huun-Huur-Tu showcases traditional Tuvan instruments and throat singing.
Check out this video I recorded of them performing Aa shuu Dekei oo with Genticorum and Gaelynn Lea

Huun-Huur-Tu at the Winnipeg Folk Festival

Smiles abound as cultures intermingle and mesh together onstage to create music that is entirely unique.

Rising Appalachia lead Winnipeg Folk Festival Workshop

Rising Appalachia leads a workshop jam with Front Country.

Rising Appalachia dancing

Leah and Chloe of Rising Appalachia take some time to dance while their bassist/guitarist David Brown and percussionist Biko Casini play on.

Rising Appalachia and Front Country jam at a Winnipeg Folk Festival Workshop

Superbands form on these workshop stages as artists meet and play together as one.
Check out these videos I recorded of Front Country leading Bizness and Rising Appalachia leading I’ll Fly Away

Leo Pellegrino of Too Many Zooz

Leo Pellegrino of Too Many Zooz brings his performance from the New York City subways to the festival stage as he leaps into the air while never missing a beat on his baritone saxophone. The horn section from Five Alarm Funk lays a solid foundation for his solo.

Natha Rogers leads a Stan Rogers singalong at the Winnipeg Folk Festival

“Play and sing my dad’s songs, but make sure you do it in your own unique voice because that’s what gives folk music its life.” – Nathan Rogers, as he leads a crowd in a Stan Rogers singalong.

Crowd sings along to Stan Rogers with Nathan Rogers

All together now!

Support independent music.

Support independent music.

A portrait of Natalie MacMaster and her fiddle

A portrait of Natalie MacMaster and her fiddle.

Five Alarm Funk funks up a Winnipeg Folk Festival workshop

Musicians and crowd feed off one another as the weekend energy continues to build.

The Strumbellas perform at a Winnipeg Folk Festival workshp

The Strumbellas strum a tune to a crowd that sings every word back at them – folk music at its finest.

Dancing the dusk away as Big Blue at Night begins

Dancing the dusk away.

People gather at the Village Tower at night

Goodbyes (for now) under the Village Tower.