The Regina Folk Festival was a rare opportunity, giving music fans the chance to see living legends like Mavis Staples and Emmylou Harris alongside established and up and coming artists. The three day event had an eclectic variety of music, from folk, to hip hop, world music, dance and rock.
The weekend represented a unique opportunity for artists as well, with workshops bringing together multiple bands to perform, discuss their music with fans, and try new things in front of an audience. These stages featured intimate performances which often featured plenty of crowd interaction.
One of the bands performing over the weekend was Great Lake Swimmers. The Ontario band had a new album out, New Wild Everywhere, which represented a departure from the group. While known for recording in unconventional locations, such as old churches and grain bins, the group recorded in a conventional studio, something that lead singer Tony Dekker admits is the opposite of most bands.
"I wanted our friend and engineer Andy Magoffin to step in as more of a full on producer, and I wanted to see where he would take the project. He really wanted us to enter the studio and see how we could sound in a closed environment with lots of fancy gear... We've been making records for over a decade, but it was our first foray into the studio," Dekker says.
The band has a distinct rural sound, reminiscent of wide open spaces, and Dekker says that it's something that comes from deep inside.
"When I think of what I have to contribute in songwriting I always go back to what I feel in my bones, and that's sort of that peace in the natural world and that closeness to the land and the environment. A fear of it, but also respect for it," Dekker says.
Dekker says that it was a great weekend, with appreciative crowds and the opportunity to meet up with old friends and play some quality music
He says that the quality of the Canadian music scene makes it possible to have something like the Regina Folk Festival, since it's a group that enjoys working together.
"I think it is indicative of the Canadian music scene to a certain extent that there is that camaraderie and community, and it's nice to cross paths with people you wouldn't see any other time of the year. You can land at these festivals, make some music together, and then scatter again," Dekker says.