Edmonton Folk Fest 2009

When Hanggai join their Mongolian Plains-grass pizzicato and throat singing with the Nashville Bluegrass of the SteelDrivers, the body is cranked up on crazy swaying musical stilts. When Canada’s Pavlo and Mali’s Issa Bagayogo team up the body finds its soul rhythm.

My own body moves in jangley marionette movements, too internal, and too self-conscious to be all that healthy. But there are those, the solitary dancers on the sides of the stages, whose inhibited moves I admire, appreciate, perhaps envy, unduly. They seem to have fallen freshly in love with their own bodies, and not necessarily because they have beautiful bodies–whatever that measurement might be by our goofy cultural standards–but because their bodies are set free by rhythm. Backs arch, heads drop to the side, arms rise up and wrists follow and hands articulate. They flow. Everything flows. I watch–and in a sweet moment I’m flowing to–until my mind takes over and trips me up. Then I go back to watching again.

No matter. The music swings and sweeps and bakes and rolls us all in a conspiracy of euphonic social harmony. Music is a train, a truck, a car, a Vespa–it transports us in different ways and at various speeds and with versatile levels of comfort. And what Edmonton’s Folk-fest does best is transport us forward together toward a single universal point. (Sure, I’m a romantic) Divisions drop away and improbable things come to be. Like the violin player from Jill Barber’s band who could whistle two notes at a time–in perfect harmony.

The Folk-fest has wound down and like every year I’m left with a handful of sweet moments–musical jujubes. Like chillin’ on the hill with my son and 20,000 friends.



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