by Nilabjo Banerjee

Sunday started out as a murky cold affair extending to spritz of rainfall intermittently throughout the day and evening. But, the endurance of the Folk Festers was rewarded with impressive music. Good things come to those who stick around, right?


Shakey Graves

Alejandro Rose-Garcia, aka Shakey Graves, was one of the primary motivations for travelling the miles to the festival. The Texas gentleman has gained notoriety through word of mouth and YouTube videos of the one-man band performances featuring the signature “suitcase” with a bass kick and tambourine. Alejandro’s muffled husky delivery instilled a much needed warmth and charm into an otherwise dull ambience full of mosquito-battling music lovers. A major portion of the audience were existing fans, as they were mouthing words to familiar tunes such as “Late July”, “Tomorrow” and the personal favourite “Roll The Bones”. The troubadour talent also debuted new material from And The War Came, the sophomore album to be released later this year.  The newer songs had the familiar vulnerable emotionality in the words, and expanded percussion sounds aided by Boo, Alejandro’s drummer buddy from Oklahoma. The playful and cheekiness between the two was wholeheartedly amusing, and the crowd secretly hoped that Boo would accompany Shakey Graves when he returns to the Peg for a date in November.

Bulk of the afternoon was lost in evading the rain. The bright spots were eating delicious Boon Burger (local veggie burger joint) and bumping into an unplugged David Myles set at the Artist Signing Tent


Old Man Canyon

A modest crowd was huddled under the curvy extension of Big Bluestem stage to see Old Man Canyon. Fronted by Jett Pace, the Vancouver based band got few heads bopping with bass-driven alternative rock. Pace’s understated voice had moments of stellar falsettos, and despite the minimalist nature of the songs, the set didn’t feel like more of the same stuff. Debuting some new material from an upcoming debut full-length, Jett and co closed with EP title track “Phantom and Friends”, the song responsible for the band’s meteoric rise to prominence.


Sharon Van Etten

Just like the rain, the crowd was gradually trickling in to see Sharon Van Etten. The Brooklyn native displayed ultimate empathy by distributing umbrellas before playing a note. Making her Winnipeg debut, Van Etten played the “feel-good set” of the weekend with her midtempo folk-rock ballads that has made her a favourite amongst critics and fans alike. The unintentionally loveable Brooklyn native was at ease on stage and with the crowd alike, exchanging kisses and smiles with bandmates and dedicating songs to dancing children in the crowd (shoutout to Tatum). Guess it helps your confidence when your self-produced album (recently released Are We There) earns universal critical and fan acclaim. Talk about self-validation!


Boy & Bear

Boy & Bear

Growing weary of the miserable conditions, the verdict was to leave after few minutes of Aussie folk act Boy & Bear. Over on the Main Stage, caught glimpses of the legendary Joan Baez and transcendental folk-stars Elephant Revival, who will be playing Hillside Festival next weekend as well.


Despite the dreary weather, the persistence of music lovers at Winnipeg Folk Fest was astounding. The rowdy reception was universal across all the sets, and the sense of community was wholeheartedly enjoyable. You were an incredible host, Winnipeg, and this Torontonian (Bramptonite if we are being technical) is genuinely thankful. Here is to better weather next year!