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L.A. Beat

Peace love and great music at South Country Fair

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In addition to the community of peace , love and understanding which permeates among music lovers at a Tequila Mockingbird Orchestra’s Kurt small, intimate folk festival like the South Country Fair (which ran July 16-18) in Fort Macleod, the best part of going to folk festivals, is discovering  new artists you may not have heard before.

“It has just been the best one so far,” said organizer Maureen Chambers, sitting next to the stage, listening to Indio Saravanja  adding she has enjoyed the whole thing and couldn’t choose  a favourite performer.

I arrived a little late, Saturday, July 17, but luckily things were behind schedule anyway. So I caught parts of the Heather Blush Trio on the South Stage and French cabaret accordion player Marie Josee Houle who was playing at the same time on the East Stage. Luckily the stages are close together, so I was able to hop between the two and catch as much as possible.

Jana Mackenzie dances to Tequila Mockingbird Orchestra. Photo by Richard AmeryJay Crocker put on the strangest performance of the afternoon, playing a variety of unusual instruments laden with effects.
I left the one of the most unique shows of  the fair to catch a pleasant surprise on the East Stage —  Daniel Moir. The young Edmonton based songwriter is beginning his first cross Canadian tour, but played some pleasant indie rock tinged folk music with his band and switched between a couple guitars and a banjo.

Dana Wylie was another afternoon highlight on the South Stage, beginning her set with a beautiful a cappella song sung in harmony with her band.
I also enjoyed more harmonies with Low Flying Planes, an Indigo Girls inspired Edmonton duo featuring Lynett McKell and Megan Kemshead, who wound down their set with the “first song we ever sang and performed together”— Ketchup, which had the crowd cheering.

The Beez put on a quirky and upbeat show, Saturday night. Photo by Richard AmeryThe curse of having two stages so close together is having two acts you really want to see playing at the same time. This was the case of David Essig and Rick Scott with Shelley Brown on stand up bass. They were playing an outstanding set of blues tinged folk, featuring some laid back slide guitar and some weird faces from Rick Scott who was bouncing around and mugging for the crowd while  playing an Appalachian mountain dulcimer, which looked like its nickname — the electric snowshoe.

Rick Scott even wrote a song about the history of the instrument, which he was playing in the children’s tent on Sunday afternoon.

Meanwhile the sounds of local indie rock band  the Record Holder wafted across the grounds. They had the audience on their feet for the first time all afternoon. They played my favourite “Amsterdam.”
People also really liked Swedish singer/songwriter Wendy McNeil who added some awesome accordion  to start off the evening shows.

As expected Calgary songwriter Lorrie Matheson was a highlight on the south stage in the evening with a more indie rock sound.
 I didn’t know what to exShelley Brown, David Essig and Rick Scott. Photo by Richard Amerypect from the Mighty Popo, who played a mesmerizing show at the Geomatic Attic a few months ago, as I heard he can really tear it up.
 But he was in another mellow mood, mesmerizing  the crowd with the hypnotic sounds of Africa.
 He had the audience on their feet clapping along with the beat and singing  “Life is a Celebration” for about 20 minutes before winding up his set.
Germany’s the Beez added a little humour and a lot of energy to the evening.

There was a solid lineup  on Sunday at the South Country Fair.
Indio Saravanja brought an Argentinian twist to Bob Dylan style folk. He took turns on piano, guitar and an Argentinian - style mandolin.

Lily Fawn, sporting her  standard set of antlers,  put on an impressively hypnotic solo show with her band, all dressed as forest creatures, which attracted most of the audience to the South stage, Sunday afternoon. Her violinist wore eagle feathers, while her  drummer sported a pair of antlers and her keyboardiist was decorated with an array of birds. Her high pitched voice carried across the field where  all of the dancers were dancing up a storm in front of the east stage.

 The eLily Fawn and the Brightest Darkest. Photo by Richard Ameryast stage had the strongest line up of Sunday afternoon with a  variety of high energy  folk groups.

 One which stood out was  the multi-instrumental Calgary girl group Magnolia Buckskin. The members sang gorgeous harmonies while tearing it up Cracker Cats style with a variety of instruments including accordion, mandolin and banjo.

Delhi 2 Dublin combined hip hop with upbeat folk music to bring 
the fair to a close. Photo by Richard Amery
 Shortly after their set,  the Tequila Mockingbird Orchestra kept the energy  levels up and the throng of dancers moving through a superb set of lively Gypsy tinged roots music powered by incendiary fiddle and accordion playing

 A complete counterpoint to that was on the South stage. I always wondered why CalgChad 
Vangaalen at the South Country Fair. Photo by Richard Ameryarians rave about Chad Vangaalen. And while some people called his set weak, I enjoyed his Neil Young meets the Pixies indie-rock approach to traditional folk music, which was more Nirvana than Bob Dylan. He played plenty of dissonant guitar solos while his vocals were  also reminiscent of Joel Plaskett.

He told the crowd his great-grandfather Greer was the mayor of Fort Macleod and said  they came off a ‘doozy of a show in Nelson’ and hoped this one would go better.

The complete opposite  to Vangaalen was on the East stage where a handful of people enjoyed a tight and affable set by Nancy Laberge, who brought a more modern country sound to the fair. She and her band played several catchy numbers. I enjoyed the banjo powered “Nobody Like You” as well as “Ride You’ll Never Forget.’

Aaron Trozzo hosted the after hours campfire jams as well as performed some tweeners on the main stage. Photo by Richard AmeryVancouver’s Delhi 2 Dublin had the crowd dancing this year’s fair to a close.
 They mixed electric guitar, some rock and roll sitar, plenty of percussion,  a lot of frenetic fiddle playing with hip hop beats and rapping. As the fiddler leaped  all over the stage,  they got the crowd to raise their hands and dance the afternoon away as if they were a single being with their feet tuned to a single beat.
“It’s just an amazing community,” Chambers said.
“It’s a like minded community of people. For the most part it’s kindred souls who just want to escape from the rat race for a while,” she said.

— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat editor

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Last Updated ( Monday, 19 July 2010 12:15 )  
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