Winnipeg 2004 – Saturday

The rain stayed away. It was sunny, and it was humid at first. A reasonably steady breeze kept things moderately cool as the temperature climbed into the higher 20’s.
The ground outside and through the main gate was well trampled and starting to smell of rotten things, and there were some wet spots in the parking lot but the site stayed in good condition.


My shift didn’t start until 9:00 PM, which left me free to visit workshops all day. I spent most of the day near the Green Ash Stage. This stage has seen some tree planting, and while the trees are presently small, they already afforded a little shade.
The first concert was called Folkadelia, and it emphasized instrumentation and modern styling with David Lindley, Hugh MacMillan of SotW, a couple of the Nits, didgeridoo and multi instrumentalist Xavier Rudd. There was a lot of talent on the stage, with a lot of experience and ample repertoire.
Dick Gaughan had a one hour concert there next. Utah Phillips came in early to get a seat. Gaughan had a lot of stories between the songs, entertaining with political commentary (he’s a cynical Scots nationalist with old Left/Labour views) and tales from decades on the scene. He stayed with the repertoire of his recent albums, and closed his concert with a couple of songs by Brian MacNeill, No Gods and Muir and the Master Builder.
Later in the afternoon, there was concert of newer performers featuring Jacky Greene, Joel Kroeker, Girlyman and Ruth Moody and Nicki Mehta, two of the Wailin’ Jennies. Kroeker continued to impress me. I have heard Nicki and Ruth before, and I wasn’t caught by anything else on this stage and napped for a while.
I wandered back to backstage for some water and some conversation and came out behind Shady Grove. I didn’t actually go into Shady Grove – which is really a sunny breezeless glade in the bush. I was able to find a shady spot the field west of the shady grove, and to sit down and enjoy the music and watch people for a while.
I walked to Site West as the mainstage concert started and caught the sounds of the Warsaw Village Band from a distance. They play traditional Polish music, perhaps with some additions and improvements. Some of the music sounded like Balkan music played by a Bulgarian troupe that played here a few years ago, and some of it had a middle eastern sound.
Martyn Joseph played a short set, and his aim was to entertain. He played his own song, The Good in Me is Dead, a very good song, a story told from the point of view of a refugee/survivor of the Balkan wars. He followed with his covers of Bruce Springsteen’s Thunder Road and Bruce Cockburn’s Call it Democracy. He hasn’t recorded those songs – he just likes to play them in concerts, which is a mark of his approach to interacting with an audience. He is less focussed on showcasing recent repertoire than the great majority of performers.
The next main act South African singer Vusi Mahlasela, who introduced many of his songs with stories of the past struggle to end apartheid in South Africa. The audience responded to those stories with the usual reactions, but seemed more puzzled by his songs of current African struggles for democracy like a song dedicated to Ken Sari-Wiwo.
He was followed by Dick Gaughan, who had time for a few songs as the crew set up for Linda Tillery. I’ve heard their stuff before and I headed for the car to put away my daytime stuff and change into the clothes I planned to wear on my volunteer shift.
The last two acts of the night were David Lindley and Earl Scruggs. Lindley was impressive as usual, and his bizarre sense of humour had the crowd laughing. His music was quite satisfactory for the dancers. Scruggs presented a fairly conventional bluegrass set – not as incendiary as Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder (I saw them at Edmonton last summer) and more in the Opry tradition. I was a little bored at points but it was impressive to hear Foggy Mountain Breakdown played by one of the composers – talk about living tradition.
Most of the crowd stayed until Scruggs started, and well into his set.
The night was fairly quiet for site security. We had complaints from a licenced vendor about someone offering Tarot reading and selling sparklies. We had some wheel chair patrons, and visually impaired person to assist through a crowd of people absorbed in their dancing and conversations. There was a lot of radio traffic about a 15 year old girl who was missing. She turned up and it isn’t clear if she just went off with her friends to the concent in the Firefly venue without telling Dad, asserting her freedom in other ways, or had been at risk of the objective kinds of harm of the kind at Security is supposed to prevent. Near the end of the evening on of the carts picked up an elderly man who appeared to have a problem, and we had to get a clear path to get the cart to backstage first aid – who had been packing to leave early.
It seemed to a organized chaos. There are enough experienced people to keep things moving, but no one really knows all the rules and all the answers and radios keep dying, or can’t be heard over the music. It all works out.
At the end of the mainstage concert we swept the site, encouraging stragglers and assisting the tired and the uncoordinated to get to the parking area.
The forecast for Sunday is sunny and hot.

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