Let’s play a game. The other night, while listening to a sub-par playlist at the otherwise enjoyable Moriarty’s Bistro, my friend Kyla Fisher posed a question. “What group,” she asked me, “would you most like to see perform at the Folk Festival this year?” My immediate response was, “The Avett Brothers,” but I couldn’t think of many more beyond that. After coming up with a few feeble answers, I came home angry with myself, and have been determined to come up with some better answers ever since.
I’m one of those music nerds who keeps track of all the concerts he has been to in his life. I don’t keep ticket stubs or posters anymore, but I do have a list (I can tell you, for example, that I saw KISS open up for Manfred Mann and Savoy Brown on May 17th, 1974, while inside my mother’s belly). Since August 2000, when I first started attending the Edmonton Folk Festival (I have attended Calgary’s Folk Fest several times, as well), I’ve been lucky enough to see some of my all-time favorite performers. A non-exhaustive list includes:
Steve Earle, David Gray, Blue Rodeo, Alison Krauss & Union Station, Ryan Adams, Jackson Browne, Blind Boys of Alabama, Wilson Pickett, The Funk Brothers, Odetta, Mavis Staples, Eric Bibb, Linda Tillery & The Cultural Heritage Choir, Lucinda Williams, Elvis Costello, Rufus Wainwright, Wilco, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Solomon Burke, Taj Mahal, Kathleen Edwards, David Byrne, Cat Power, Chris Isaak, The Avett Brothers, Stars, Ben Harper and Levon Helm.
That’s a pretty impressive list, with many of my faves now scratched off the “must-see” list. In trying to think of performers I’d like to see this year, then, I tried to stick with performers I have never seen before. That means no Alison Krauss, no Kathleen Edwards, no Blue Rodeo, and no Levon Helm. The only exceptions I have made are the Avett Brothers, who I saw at the Calgary Folk Festival last year, Ryan Adams, and Bob Dylan. Bob Dylan is Bob Dylan, and even though I have seen him live, it wasn’t at the Folk Festival. Plus it’s never happening, so why not throw it out there? Adams played a disastrous, rambling and ultimately shortened set in 2005, and I feel he deserves a do-over. As for the Avetts, they would have played in Edmonton last year, but a scheduling conflict prevented them from doing so. They are an amazing band with an even more amazing live presence, and I know people in the city would lose their minds seeing them perform. So they make the list. Here’s the rest:
Bob Dylan, Ryan Adams, The Avett Brothers, Bruce Springsteen (solo acoustic), Bon Iver, Gillian Welch, The Decemberists, Counting Crows, Langhorne Slim, The Tallest Man on Earth, Jack Johnson, Ray Lamontagne, Mumford & Sons, Robert Randolph & The Family Band, The Black Keys, and The Allman Brothers.
I’m sure I’m missing others, which is where the game begins. Who would you love to see perform at Edmonton Folk Festival this year? Try to stick to bands you’ve never seen before, as well as to bands that would reasonably fit into the “folk” music mold. So no Jay Z, U2, Coldplay or Radiohead, please.
Ready? 1, 2, 3…GO!