by Nilabjo Banerjee

AnotherSunset

The generosity of the weather Gods temporarily ceased on Day 4, as Environment Canada issued a tornado warning around Winnipeg, affecting shows in the afternoon for a few hours. Thankfully, the stormy conditions morphed into chilly late afternoon sunshine as performances started up on Main Stage.

 

Sunshine emerged as Calypso Rose infused some Carribean flavor to the folk fest. The legendary calypsonian, who has penned more than 800 songs over 20 albums, was unabashedly entertaining. Swagged up in a red sequined dress, the coolest G (and I don’t mean grandma) shared hilarious tales including writing a song in a ladies room and initiating a movement to setup ‘Senior Citizen’s Day’.  Anyone with a pulse was seen moving and grooving during her set.

HisGoldenMessenger

His Golden Messenger

MC Taylor, under the moniker of His Golden Messenger was a somber sandwich between the jovial Rose and rebel girl DiFranco. Earlier in the day, the North Carolina-based singer songwriter had mellowed out the folks over at the Little Stage, and his tweener set on the Main stage was no different. Even though being a fan of the genre, his melancholic delivery felt a bit uninteresting. Perhaps, on future listens, that may change.

 

Ani DiFranco

Ani DiFranco

Making her return 2 years in a row, Ani DiFranco was all smiles and all around extraordinary. Armed with only her guitar and beautiful voice, the ‘righteous babe’ played through a career spanning 20 plus years that has had more hits than misses. You can’t help but fall in love with her, who humoured the gathered thousands with witty backstories like dedicating a song to Hugo, a trumpet-possessing flight attendant from Calgary who initiated an impromptu jam with the iconic folklorist. Between the passionate guitar strums and signature vocal delivery, DiFranco exemplifies the notion that there is beauty in simplicity. There was no glitz, no glamour, just Ani.

 

Whitey Rose

Whitey Rose

Whitney Rose reasserted the country vibes of the evening. The Toronto-based singer-songwriter, adorning a cute red outfit, was a stellar follow-up act, as she played songs from her debut and upcoming release as well. Somewhere in there was a cover of “Be My Baby” by The Ronettes.

 

Jake Shimabukuro

Jake Shimabukuro

Can you blow out speakers with a ukulele? Jake Shimabukuro can! The ukulele wizard gained notoriety as his YouTube cover of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” went viral back in 2006. The Hawaiian drew first round of endearing roars as he finished the first song, despite losing all electric amplification. He continued to show off his mastery of the 4 stringed instrument with stunning originals like “Ukulele Five O”, inspired by TV show Hawaii 5-0. “Sakura Sakura”, based on a Japanese composition, was an attempt to replicate the complexities of a 13-string guitar that included a shredding electric outro, which was awarded with a mid-set standing ovation. Shimabukuro followed that intricate piece with an exquisitely brilliant cover of “Bohemian Rhapsody” and the cover that started it all, both followed by unanimous audience love. If the mild-mannered genius hadn’t already won your heart, how about a “Hallelujah” cover for an encore, that gently resonated in the fading sunset and chilly breeze?  Shimabukuro was the dark horse of the festival, given that most of the festivalgoers were unfamiliar with his work. And now he had become their darling son.

 

Look for a more detailed review of Shakey Graves’ set when he played a smaller stage Day 5. Given my lack of interest in the headliners for the evening (and chilly conditions), the decision was made to cherish the brilliance of Day 4 and prep for a stellar finale on Sunday.