The start of this blog – much like the start of our days – begins with coffee. Since hipster coffee is such a rare commodity in these parts, we have been forced to set our rock star snobbery aside, put our feet back on the ground and settle for good ole Mom and Pop style cappuccinos with heads so big and foamy you can practically carve your name into them. Why do we punish ourselves with these bubble bath beverages? The answer can found by deciphering this table:
Traveling is a time for new experiences, but we were taken by surprise when we cooked up some home made garlic bread in our Air BnB apartment, and found that the garlic turned an unexpectedly vibrant blue colour while in the oven. We consulted Dr Google, and discovered that it’s a harmless reaction to copper, which may have been present in the grater we used (in lieu of a garlic crusher).
The layout and structure Vancouver Folk Festival was very similar to that of Winnipeg Folk Festival, and one thing that was particularly handy was the fact that they made sure all our gigs were listed on our lanyards, so even the most disorganised bass players or drunken folk musicians would never get confused about when and where they were supposed to be.
Vancouver Folk Festival was located in the ultra scenic Jericho Beach Park, a few k’s from downtown Vancouver.
Back in Winnipeg we met Rob – a guy who loved our music so much and was sufficiently charismatic to convince us to agree to do a house concert at his place, an hour out of Vancouver in a little place called Chilliwack – which, despite the fact that it sounds like a savoury snack item, is in fact, a town. So, fast forward to Vancouver Folk Festival, and straight after our first gig – a workshop with a great, upbeat band of New Yorkers called Matuto – a big pickup truck pulled up on the highway outside, and we loaded the gear and piled in. The truck was driven by a super nice, mad and chatty “Newfie” (Newfoundlander) guy named Wayne, who entertained us on the drive out to Chilliwack with his great Newfie accent (halfway between Irish and Canadian) and entertaining stories.
We were impressed by this perennially snow capped mountain on the drive to Chilliwack.
Rob’s property out at Chilliwack was so quiet and peaceful it reminded us of Perch Creek. The peacefulness didn’t last long, as Wayne insisted on filling us up on “Newfie Screech” – a potent Newfoundland liquor. Joe Nolan also performed at the house concert – actually he was supposed to be the only performance, but we kinda crashed the gig… Luckily he was a cool guy and we had a great time hanging with Joe and his band.
Nothing beats the smell of fresh hay while performing.
Everyone there was incredibly nice, including Rob who offloaded a couple of pairs of cowgirl boots that his wife and daughter refused to wear onto Eileen and Camilla.
Just like the Winnipeg Folk Festival, the Vancouver Folk Festival was all about the workshops – which involve throwing a bunch of different bands on stage together and seeing what happens. The first few we did had a slightly clunky feel, but the more of them we did, the more we got to see the potential for moments of magic and spontaneity. One such example was our workshop with the charismatic singer Pokey La Farge, who, as it happens, had lost his voice – but despite this we had a great time jamming with his band, which we were surprised to discover was led by our good friend TJ – a great trumpet player who we met and hung out with back in Edinburgh a few years back.
Remember in the last blog how I drummed up support for Camilla’s unpopular, but cutting edge foldable fashion hat? Well the blog reading community were very supportive, but the ultimate support came in the form of this lady (below) who was sporting the exact same hat! Neither one had ever seen another hat like theirs before and the bond was instant.
After the festival we hung out with a new friend, Furby, who gave us a little tour of Vancouver, which, we discovered, boasts 94 “medical” marijuana dispensaries – many of which can be spotted by big neon 7 pointed leaves. Apparently you can walk in, talk to a naturopath via Skype for 5 minutes and be given a script for the healing herb, and then walk out with a pocket full of the green stuff. In certain parts of the Downtown area you can smell marijuana smoke on every corner. There were quite a lot of homeless people getting around as well as quite a few “gutter kids”, which is a kind of modern day bohemian punk subculture who choose to live the street life, often accompanied by pet dogs. Furby showed us around a few local breweries before our final Vancouver post-festival gig at The Railway Club, which prompted a slightly cross-eyed Lear to blurt out on the microphone “I’m starting to question the wisdom of going on a brewery tourery before a gig!”
Stay tuned for whatever is going to happen next!