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Live Review: Edmonton Folk Music Festival Day Two ft. Edward Sharpe + Harry Manx + Frazey Ford and more! (07.08.15)


Pictured: Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros

On Day Two of Edmonton Folk Music Festival, we were treated to a rich and wonderfully extensive line up of artists, spread out across seven stages. Our night of music kicked off with the exciting and very promising session entitled "Magical Moments" with Jenn Grant, Bear's Den, John Smith and Danny Michel collaborating for a special performance.

After Bear’s Den’s Andrew Davies opened with a warm folk track from their 2014 album Islands, Jenn Grant instantly had us caught up in her stunning country folk sound with a rendition of Bear’s Den’s "Magdalene”. There were a few small sound issues, leading to some entertaining banter to fill in the time - with Danny Michel following the holdup with the sweet “Wish Willy”, with the song encompassing entertaining story-telling lyrics involving accidental visits to a brothel.

Upon his turn to lead, UK artist John Smith (pictured above) came in with a heartfelt number backed by stunning violin and brass, with other highlights including Jenn Grant's darker, "I’ve Got Your Fire”. Bear's Den's "Above the Clouds of Pompeii", was a highlight of the set, yet the best moment of all would have to have been when all artists came together for an incredible rendition of Bruce Springsteen's "Dancing in the Dark".

Moving over to Stage One, I was able to catch the tail end of Harry Manx's set. An extraordinary blues and roots artist from British Columbia who incorporates East Asian influences with his intricate guitar work, Manx has been on the scene since he first started out in the 1970s. The beautifully worded “Coat of Mail” had a catchy blues folk vibe, as "Dew on the Roses”. Stating, "Probably just like you, I look forward to coming to this event all year", it was clear that Harry Manx was loving his time at the 36 year old folk festival, going on to deliver "A Love Supreme”, working in more of his trademark Indian guitar style and a melodic chorus. To close his set, Manx brought out his harmonica for a vibrant cover of Muddy Waters' classic track, "I Can't be Satisfied”, offering a perfect mix of Muddy and Harry's own unique style.

As six of the festival's seven stages drew to a close, opening the Main Stage for Day Two and bringing everyone to the central ampitheatre was the gorgeous Frazey Ford (pictured above); captivating her massive crowd with her soaring soulful, jazzy vocals. Hailing from British Colombia, Frazey's star has continued to rise higher and higher since she began her solo career in 2010, leading to her chance to play to such a large and adoring crowd here in Edmonton. Also accompanied by members of Al Green's band and backup singers, the highlights included “Bird of Paradise”, her sadder, "Three Golden Trees", and the swoon worthy song about a crush titled "I Like You Better". Also throwing in what she called a Warrior Song in favour of voting, Frazey went on to close with a captivating and truly soulful performance of the Otis Redding track, "The Happy Song”.

Next up, in honour of Nashville being Edmonton's sister city, the Mayor of Nashville himself came onto the stage to introduce one of his city's own artists: Mike Farris (pictured above). Out to play songs from his latest album Shine For All The People, Mike performed the upbeat and soulful first track from the record titled "The Power of Love". Playing with abundant energy and force, Farris went on to play "Shine For All the People", and closed the set with the inspiring "The Little Light of Mine".


Alex Ebert jumps into the crowd and gazes up at the ampitheatre of candles...

And, on come the headliners of Day Two - the eternally charismatic, playful and totally unpredicatible Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. The act opened with the bouncy, escalating track "Don’t Wanna Pray”, a song featured on their 2012 album Here. "40 Day Dream" brought us back to the enormous joy of the band's 2009 record Up From Below, as front man Alex Ebert waved a candle about with the rest of us and roared in a psychedelic interlude to the song, with “Up From Below” similarly getting the crowd moving with its impressive energy. Despite at one point saying, “Damn I’m So Beat”, Alex still put on a strong show, also throwing in favourites including “Man on Fire” and “Truth” – one of Alex Ebert’s very first releases.

All Photos by Larry Heath. Check out the pics HERE.