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Live Review: Edmonton Folk Music Festival Day Three ft. Richard Thompton + Lucius + The Milk Carton Kids and more! (08.08.15)


Richard Thompson performs while The Milk Carton Kids look on...

Our third day started off on stage three with the phenomenal "Define Folk" session, featuring Oysterband, Richard Thompson, Geoff Muldaur and Amos Garrett and The Milk Carton Kids. We arrived just in time for Geoff Muldaurs' delivery of "Tennessee Blues", which had a beautiful heartfelt country blues feel to it, before Richard Thompson went on to sing a gentle Celtic folk song accompanied by a rich swirl of strings.

The Milk Carton Kids gave a truly unplugged and acoustic performance of their track "I Still Want a Little More" from their 2011 debut album Prologue, while Oysterband went on to deliver their fascinating folk song, “The Oxford Girl”, which came about as a response to the realisation that most folk songs are written by men about women, whilst hardly ever offering the female perspective.

Over on Stage Six, a similarly exciting ensemble of Frazey Ford, Lord Huron, and Eddie Berman had come together for the "New Frontiers" session. We arrived in time to hear Frazey's soulful "Three Golden Trees", and Eddie Berman's "Joanne" - funnily enough named after his wife Joanna. A beautifully told story with a warm uplifting chord, this number certainly stood as a highlight of the set. The group closed with the Doc Watson’s “Your Lone Journey” by Lord Huron, with this undoubtedly standing as an absolute favourite song of the set – for it’s stunning harmonies and melody.

After various technical difficulties over on Stage 5, Quebec based act The Barr Brothers began what was to be the perfect blend of roots, folk and rock for a sunny Saturday afternoon. "Come In the Water" was one of the opening numbers, standing as a relaxed tune featuring strong percussion and the talents of harpist Sarah Page. "How the Heroine Dies" was a soft, sweet folk track with stunning use of the harp and Page's floating angelic vocals across the number, while "Begger in the Morning" featured harmonica, and the soothing vocals and incredible rhythmic guitar had the crowd entranced. Declaring this set to be their last show of a yearlong tour, the band closed with what they declared to be their newest song, which is another soft sweet track showing off Barr's intricate guitar work.

After quickly checking out the beautiful world music of Alberta based artist Oscar Lopez (born in and influenced by the music of Chile), I made my way back to Stage One for the "Something Borrowed, Something Blues" session. Featuring Harry Manx, The Barr Brothers, Mike Farris and Tinarowen, we were treated to a whole lot of incredible blues and roots guitar and shared vocals. After an extensive jam amongst all musicians, with short times allocated to vocals, Harry Manx took over for "Help Me " with Mike Farris stepping in for a cover of Depeche Mode's "Personal Jesus".

Over to Stage Three was the "Something Old, Something New" session, with The Once, Sarah Jarosz and Aoife O'Donovan, Lynched and Braden Gates. Sarah Jarosz and Aoife O'Donovan performed the first song that they ever wrote together; the sweet country folk fused "Hornets". Alberta singer songwriter Braden Gates showed off his captivating folk abilities and lyrics with "Perfect Shade of Blue", with the set being closed with a wonderful performance of "The Boy You Used To Be", well and truly reaffirming that this was an ensemble of high quality folk artists.

Matt Andersen (pictured above) opened the Main Stage with "Make Your Stay", perfectly showcasing his raw and powerful blues and roots tinged vocals and acoustic guitar. "I Lost My Way" was one of the Canadian artist’s more tender tracks, as was "Coal Mining Blues”. After delivering a thoroughly enjoyable set for his admiring crowd, Andersen closed with the faster, more assertive "Devil’s Bride”, earning himself a standing ovation from the crowd.

Lucius (pictured above) are a US act who blend together Americana folk, 60's style pop and percussive rock - and coming to the Main Stage they gave their performance everything that they had. Lead singers Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig wowed the crowd with their soaring, powerful vocals, bringing out tracks including the energetic, almost frantic "Nothing Ordinary", to then play, "Until We Get There", a track bursting with their vibrancy and talent for writing infectious melodies. Going on to close with "Genevieve”, these guys know how to put on a strong show that makes a strong impression.

Bear's Den (pictured above) were the next act to take to the Main Stage, playing to bigger and bigger audiences as their stunning, heartfelt new folk continues to astound and draw in audiences across the world. A three piece hailing from the UK, the band's sound has an intimacy to it that makes for a warmer, more inclusive listening experience. Bear's Den opened with "Straight Into the Light", a track featuring a strong melody and surging horns, to then move onto the more dramatic "Mother”, a song with an incredible pulsating beat and banjo. "Don’t Let the Sun Steal You Away" was a highlight, as was “Magdalene”.

A favourite of the set would have to be the tender track "Above the Clouds of Pompeii", which started out quietly, to build into a swirling melody filling with brass and heartfelt lyrics. The set was amped up with, "The Love We Stole" working in stronger percussion, as did the cover of Drake's, "Just Hold On We"re Going Home". Bear’s Den closed with the clear crowd favourite that had everyone on their feet, "Agape”, making it clear that by the end of the set this UK band had gained themselves a whole new bunch of fans.

After two members of Chinese act Hanggai delivered three stunning songs of Mongolian Folk Music, Richard Thompson (pictured above) made his way onto the stage to start out with, "Bathsheba Smiles”, instantly showing off his fast guitar work and dark, descriptive lyrics. "The Ghost of You Walks" was a romantic number, to be followed by the much faster, “Valerie”, which had an almost rockabilly quality to it. Listening to the music of Richard Thompson, it really is astounding and a tribute to him that his sound is so incredibly rich for it to have been just the one artist on stage.

Lord Huron went on to bring the third night to a close, with the fourth and final day of the Edmonton Folk Music Festival happening tomorrow. Unfortunately we won't be there to see Laura Marling, Brandi Carlile and more, but we've had an amazing time at this incredible festival over the last three days and can't thank the event, Edmonton Tourism and Travel Alberta enough for having us.

While at the festival we stayed at the Chateau Laucombe and we flew Air Canada, who offer direct flights from Sydney to Vancouver, from where you can connect to a short hour long flight to Edmonton.

For more details about the festival head to: http://www.edmontonfolkfest.org.

Photos by Larry Heath.