August 21, 2008
a whole new 'fest

The not-writing continues. I spent the weekend at the Ottawa Folk Festival, having my mind blown until I could only grumble that everything was too good. Could Mason be any happier with Broken Social Scene? Why did the Sadies have to pummel us with loud, flawless death country? How can I ever listen to “House of the Rising Sun” after Odetta showed us all how it was done? And thank heaven Rufus Wainwright is merely a competent piano player, because being beautiful, charming, smart and singing like an angel is enough for one human being.

And those were just the high points, the moments at which my eyes rolled back into my head and the line between too much and can’t stop were blurred. The Carolina Chocolate Drops charmed me with their string band-y goodness that kept us banging out time even when we were listening to a CD rather than a live performance. Spiral Beach are way too cool and talented – they make me feel very, very old and their audience of 12-year-olds giving me cut-eye didn’t help. Tao Rodriguez-Seger (Pete’s grandson) was great on stage and also when he was the anonymous guy playing banjo by himself in a patch of shade – utterly charming.

We were there to see Broken Social Scene, a band I don’t know all that well. It’s a tribute to their playing (and Mason’s ecstatic reactions) that I walked away a fan. The same can be said of every other act – either I knew them only by reputation or not at all, and I was converted again and again. Every night we went to sleep in our cold tent amazed that we’d survived another day of beauty. (Especially the first night, when we found out the hard way that this was merely a suggested accommodation and no shuttles or even local buses would run us to the camp grounds. For one used to going to sleep within earshot of the main stage a la Stanfest, this was a tough lesson to get at midnight.)

When we weren’t flopped out in shade patches, dancing or clapping along, we explored a tiny bit of Ottawa’s By Ward Market. I grew addicted to the Montreal style bagels, and the both of us to French pastries so easily available. The food on site wasn’t bad either; there was one booth run by the vegetarian Green Door that was our most frequent stop and each day we would try to hold off buying the dal as long as we could, and then fail and console ourselves with vegan chocolate pecan brownies. Mason is deeply suspicious of vegetarian food (he’s a 100-mile diet kind of guy) and his allegiance to the booth made the sneaky part of me happy.

It was a glorious weekend. I’m sorry you missed it.

ottawa folk festival

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