This past weekend, August 9, 10 and 11 marked the 6th annual Kingsville Folk Music Festival and once again featured an outstanding variety of folk, pop and world music from across Canada and the U.S.
Kicking off Friday night was Juno Award winning family entertainers The Swinging Belles from St John’s NL. The band got the crowd going early with their fun and interactive show, encouraging audience participation. Other acts on the evening included T. Nile, multiple bluegrass award winners Traditionally Wound, multiple Juno Award nominee Danny Michel and headlining the weekend, multiple Juno award winner Serena Ryder. Ryder performed solo with a variety of acoustic and electric guitars but opened her set singing her first song acapella and wowed the crowd with her amazing vocal abilities.
Saturday’s events started with a kids show featuring Jeremy Fisher Junior on the main stage and continued through the afternoon with a variety of workshops and mini concerts staged on various small stages around the park. There was an artisan village featuring work from local artists auctioned by the Arts Society Kingsville and several other artisans featuring hand made items and crafts. The Saturday evening main stage featured a world music theme, opening with the aptly named Tri-Continental, a band with a blues/folk/world music blend. Violinist Briga added a European flavour with her blend of French and English compositions accompanied by her violin, firmly rooted in eastern European and Romani folk sounds. Multiple Juno winning Latin guitarist Oscar Lopez was next and wowed the crowd with his guitar skills and engaged them with his charm and sense of humour. Midway through his set he brought out a surprise guest, tenor Remigio Pereira who floored the crowd with his gorgeous vocal accompaniment. Argentinean born Gabriel Palatchi kept the Latin theme going with his unique sound deeply rooted in Latin Jazz. Finishing the night was Toronto calypso band Kobo Town, fronted by Trinidad born band founder Drew Gonsalves. Playing with contagious energy, the bands music commands the audience to get up and dance and that they did. Despite a problem with the power going out several times during the performance, the band admirably played through each time with the crowd helping out by singing along and shining their cell phones at the stage.
The third day of the festival featured more workshops and mini concerts during the day. Most of the mini shows featured jams combining several of the performers playing each others songs. It was a unique and intimate experience and quite fun to watch. Some of the daytime performers were local or up and coming artists not included on the main stage performances who had the opportunity to show their talents in mini concerts as well as perform in the workshops and jams with main stage performers. Two of the local musicians this year were Crissi Cochrane and Brendan Scott Friel both of Windsor.
Sunday’s closing main stage show featured a more traditional folk sound with opening act The pairs from London ON. The band consists of three classically trained vocalists, sisters Renee and Noelle Coughlin and Hillary Watson along with former punk drummer Steve Plimmer who combine for a real aural treat! Also on the bill was singer/songwriter Gurf Morlix, known for being a member of Lucinda William’s band from 85 to 96 and also producing two of her albums as well as albums for several other musicians over the years. Toronto’s Union Duke got the crowd energized again with their upbeat alt rock/bluegrass style music. Percussionist Matt Warry-Smith is the engine that drives the band’s performances, his manic energy drawing smiles from the audience and the other band members. Their new song “Ladidadida” got everyone on their feet and singing along to the title. Vermont trio Low Lily kept the night going with their signature sound that blends traditional folk with a contemporary pop “twist”. The night belonged to headliner and festival closers The Milk Carton Kids. It seemed evident from the crowd reaction that the majority had come to see this Grammy nominated duo from California. The two musicians could be called a blend of Simon and Garfunkle and the Smothers Brothers, combining gentle harmonies and quirky humour between songs. Ironically, despite being recognised for their beautiful folk recordings, a highlight of the set was a cover of Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here” during their encore. Festival founders and producers John and Michele Law had been trying since the first year to book the duo and finally succeeded this year.
The festival is run by the not for profit Sun Parlor Folk Music Society. There are over 200 volunteers who help make this festival a success. The board of directors work tirelessly 12 months of the year and long weeks leading up to the festival. A winter concert series also helps to promote and sell tickets for each year’s festival. All income pays to produce the festival and covers the expenses (performers, site setup, etc) each year. A portion of the proceeds goes towards an annual scholarship for youth arts education. The volunteer run Society runs the annual festival and a year round concert series in Kingsville. The festival draws attendees from across Canada and the US.
All photos by Dan Boshart