Alan Ricketts, Mike Trask, The Divorcees, and Nathan Rogers
So…still trying to find the time to write about StanFest, but it’s summer and I’m out of town again, so it’s getting close to impossible. I didn’t jot anything down while I was on site either. I was too busy unwinding and enjoying for that. Gonna see what I can come up with here anyway…
The accommodations are pretty sparse in Canso so the entire town turns into a campground of sorts. Tents and campers and RVs in yards and parking lots and campgrounds set a colorful, almost carnival like atmosphere
It was my first StanFest, hard to believe. I signed up to volunteer specifically so I would not forget to go this year. My first shift was Thursday night/Friday morning, and my last shift Sunday night/Monday morning. I camped out, and worked in the kitchen at Camp Glasgow. I still can’t cook, but I am pretty good at taking orders, serving, making sandwiches, dishing up chowder, doing dishes, and tossing cold pizza at musicians who are trying to get a snack an hour after the kitchen is closed
Well I mentioned family. There was so much sharing and passing down of music. For example, one of the performers from PEI had her teenage son with her, and he spent a lot of time up in the kitchen at Camp Glasgow where many of the musicians and volunteers stayed. I sat in one evening while he was hanging out with some of the performers who were teaching him guitar licks. Bruce Guthro had his son on stage. Nathan Rogers performed and paid tribute to his father, Stan. Garnet Rogers, brother to Stan, was not performing, but was around socializing. Jimmy joined Raylene on stage during the Rankin, Church, and Crowe set. The list goes on and on. And the family doesn’t end with blood ties. The entire event feels like a family affair. People who have jammed together and shared stages for years, and first timers who have been waiting for the chance, all camping together. For years friends have told me about StanFest…I finally understand what makes it so special.
Since I stayed up in Camp Glasgow I actually didn’t go to many of the shows as I just enjoyed hanging out as musicians strolled through and told their stories and did a little jamming.
I made it down the main show on the first night and some of the smaller stages throughout the weekend. In alphabetical order these are the people I ventured out to see, and about half I was seeing for the first time:
8 Ball Aitken
Ladies of the Canyon
You may wonder why there were so many wonderful performers who I did not go to see, but it was also because I have seen most of them multiple times over the years. So it was nice to just kick back, make friends, break bread, and hang out. It was a highlight to play dice with Bill Bourne for example. Bill has quite an aura about him, and it was a privilege to finally see him perform as well. And Alex and “Turtle” from The Divorcees are two of the neatest guys I’ve ever met. And since StanFest is a folk festival it attracts a certain type of audience, and I was also exposed to some very interesting political and ecological views from both the musicians and the volunteers. There were a lot of “thinkers” at this event.
I regret I did not make it to any of Theresa Doyle’s performances, and it was lovely to meet Theresa. I will certainly make it a point to see a show in the future. I was pretty sorry to miss out on Nudie and the Turks for the third time in two years…so asked them if they would come over to Halifax if I organize a house show for them…yeehaw…Nudie says sure thing! Who’s coming?
Absolutely every performance was wonderful, and there is always a standout of course, and it’s always a very personal thing. For me, it was a stage with Alan Ricketts, Mike Trask, the Divorcees, and Nathan Rogers. I didn’t know what to expect from Nathan and I’m pretty sure when it was his turn to sing my jaw hit the floor as his first song in the show was throat chanting. And it was absolutely brilliant with the other guys on stage. It was definitely one of those “wow” moments. Alan plays the banjo like nobody’s freakin business, the Divorcees are so much fun live it’s ridiculous, Mike Trask knocked my socks off with his raunchy voice, good looks, and high energy, and Nathan definitely holds his own as a great folk singer. The entire trip was worth it for me for that one hour.
Only caught 8 Ball Aitken’s last song of his set and that was a huge mistake. He’s on my list now for sure. It was a pleasure to finally see Chad Tetford and also to meet him as he is a friend to many of my Sydney mates. Po’ Girl seriously turned me on to the clarinet…nice! Bill Bourne was amazing…and his backup band the Bop Ensemble was great too…Jasmine did the most amazing dance with a hula hoop. Wonder if we can find that on Youtube…too cool. I didn’t realize Jimmy Rankin was such a hit with the ladies…they went crazy when he hit the stage…I lost count of how many times I heard “isn’t he cute?”
Anyway, highlights are all I can give you. And everyone will have their own wow moments. I only stayed for two of Don’s songs but apparently when he did American Pie the entire crowd simple stood up en masse. The power of music is strong indeed.
My only complaint was that nobody told me to pack rubber boots. One of the musicians said it should be noted in their package, agreed. I will have to pick some up now that I’ve seen how many colors and patterns are available. Amazing!
I didn’t get many pictures, although I had fantastic opportunities to take pics at impromptu jams, or while people where hanging out in the kitchen, but that didn’t seem right to me. And I simply wanted to savor the moment. Well and there was the weather to contend with. Fog, rain, clouds, mud…none of it ruined the vibe but it doesn’t make for great pictures.
So on Sunday night I was chilling out up in Camp Glasgow and the sun made an appearance. As I had four hours until my last volunteer shift I started the car and headed for town. As I hoped, the pictures practically took themselves as the sunset on the water was nothing less then perfection. I strolled around Little Grassy Island and the Marina for about two hours and arrived back later on relaxed and grateful for a wonderful time.
Did my shift, bid farewell to friends, old and new…and at 3am filled up the car with my stuff and two unexpected passengers…one musician and one volunteer. It made the drive back to Halifax a lot more enjoyable and goes to show, you never know what to expect at StanFest. As I always say…go find out for yourself!