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Wow, what a wonderful weekend at Summerfolk Festival in Owen Sound – the 40th anniversary of this amazing roots music festival that is so close to my heart. I grew up going to this festival many, many summers as a kid of the Friends of Fiddler’s Green (who, by the way, have a brand new album hot off the presses). So it was an amazing full circle experience for me to bring “To Live in the Age of Melting: Northwest Passage” to the main stage on the closing night of the festival this year.
Thanks again to James Keelaghan, inspired artistic director of the festival, for inviting me to the festival, and for his beautiful introduction to my set on the main stage.
I feel so lucky to have been raised inside of the folk music community: to grow up steeped in a living, oral tradition of music and stories. This unique subculture that keeps traditional music alive through festivals and house concerts, non-mainstream performance venues and dedicated networks of people who love to sing, to tell stories and poems, to dance and create community through sharing and celebrating and passing these traditions on. It’s an incredible community. I feel my work as an artist in this community has often been about pushing at the boundaries of the “tradition” – taking what I’ve received, and poking at it, prodding, questioning and interrogating the perspectives, the points of view that we uphold. I believe that part of the definition of a “living tradition” is about challenge and change: to staying awake to how the old songs and stories change in relationship to our culture as it evolves, to challenging ourselves as artists (and audiences) to never be complacent in our thinking, but to keep asking the big questions. Thanks Summerfolk for letting me ask those big questions on your main stage.
If you are looking for links to any of the material I performed this weekend, here they are:
Honey (my song about Rowdy Roddy Piper)
The Stone and the Bumblebee, a love story
Always (my song from the perspective of a pad)
Records (song about my dad’s songs)
Instructions for Learning to Ride a Bicycle by Miss Frances Willard, 1895
The Ballad of Annie Londonderry