Review of concert from 2003-07-24: Calgary, Calgary Folk Music
Festival - with Steve Nieve
Calgary Sun, 2003-07-25
- Mike Bell
GREAT FOLK ... Above: Elvis Costello was headliner
July 24 at the Folk Festival. The festival which runs until July
27. Tickets are available for July 25 and 27, but July 26 is sold
— Darren Makowichuk, Calgary Sun
2003 CALGARY FOLK MUSIC FESTIVAL — Day 1
Elvis is king!
by Mike Bell
You can tell a great deal from a first date. You learn a lot about
the other party, as you feel each other out, trying to get a read on
And it also sets the mood for the rest of the relationship, even dictating
whether or not you want to continue on with things or call it a wash
and just be friends.
If that’s the case, after date one — or day one, if you
wish — the 24th edition of the Calgary Folk Music Festival set
things up for a relationship with incredible possibilities and, hopefully,
With a lineup that included local talent, world artists and international
superstars, on July 24 festival organizers gave but a glimpse of what
was to come over the course of the next three days on Prince’s
Not putting everything on the line, but holding little back.
On the other side of things was an audience, that, while around 9,300
and approaching a sell-out of 10,000 — which had already been
attained for Saturday and Sunday, and was a fair bet for Friday —
didn’t seem ready to fully commit.
Case in point was the reception given Calgary urban folk voyeur Kris
Demeanor, who was afforded the great honour of opening the entire fest
with his Crack Band — Chantal Vitalis, Diane Kooch and Peter Moller.
The quartet were spot-on, showcasing their gifts at building roots-based
tenements for Demeanor’s wry, witty and very human observations
about life in a glass, metal and mortar environment.
Maybe it was because the audience hadn’t yet let down their nine-to-five
defenses, or maybe off-kilter wasn’t quite a Thursday at 5:30
p.m. frame of mind, but whatever the case, the crowd were a little stoic,
cracking not much of a smile for Demeanor’s witty banter.
Lorrie Matheson fared only a little better, maybe even less so thanks
to a shot at this province’s ruling party. (It may be a folk festival,
but right-wing political leanings are rarely left at the door in the
Kingdom of His Pie-ness, Ralph Klein.)
That’s fine, the great, bespectacled grump will get another,
longer opportunity to show his stuff during a full sidestage performance
on the morning of July 27.
The first real crack in the buttoned-up audience veneer came when colourful
Colombian percussion-vocal act Petrona Martinez and her band took the
The wonderfully rich world music performer — masters of the Bullerengue,
an Afro-Colombian dance rhythm — brought the skirted earth children
to their feet and twirling, and lifted the mood.
Killing time — and dying quite painfully doing it — between
the next set change was evening emcee Todd Butler, who’s silly,
CBC-esque novelty folk was a little too cheesy to endure.
There was nothing off-putting about the next mainstager, classy, classic
country music legend Ricky Skaggs, who was joined by his brilliant bluegrass
band Kentucky Thunder.
Skaggs and Co. brought the Ole Opry to life, with their picking and
plucking, swinging and strumming and — oh, my — that vocal
It was absolutely 100% pure.
And the Nashville sounds they whipped up danced as effortlessly and
as coolly through the air as the ever-increasing wind blowing in off
Speaking of which, that was about the only sign of weather worries
— Thunder brought no rain and the climate was as comfortable as
Continuing that was Sondra Lerche, who headliner Elvis Costello tacked
on to the lineup last minute.
Lerche made the most of his 15-minute opportunity, winning the Island
over with his clean, romantic pop.
It was a great call by Costello, who, in his almost 30-year career,
has made many of them.
With a wealth of tunes to chose from, the veteran tunesmith, who was
joined by pianist Steve Nieve, hopped around his various incarnations
and dipped into his deep, deep catalogue to pluck out gems such as Accidents
Will Happen and turn them into quiet, pretty, classical works.
It’s been 25 years since he last was here, and Costello left
the crowd completely enthralled and wanting more.
Not a bad way to end a first date, eh?