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Vancouver Folk Music Festival and the Canon A80

It has been raining in Vancouver now for a couple of days and I have been riding, because I put my van in the shop just as the clouds were gathering. As the rain pours down in a foreshadowing of the winter that will arrive all too soon, I think back to the clear skies and endless sun we enjoyed July 19 + 20th for the 31st annual Vancouver Folk Music Festival.

Despite my frustration with how slow everything is progressing with my project, I still dropped everything to go to the Folk Music Festival with my daughter and her friends. It is really hard for me to concentrate on spreadsheets when I know there is some fine music out on Jericho Beach.

This is also a story about cameras because I was left with my venerable aged Canon A80 to take to the Folk Fest and to the Javanese Shadow play. This is because I invested in the Canon S series as a suitable camera for my daughter and it is really too fragile. I ended up with her old S2 after the power supply blew out and I bought her an S3. I had my Canon A80 and had just bought some lenses for it when I got the S2 repaired and have been using it instead of the older A80. Alas, the S3 blew out it’s power supply and I returned the S2 to my daughter while it was in the shop. So, I was left with the A80, but I had lenses to try out.

My daughter was armed with the newly repaired Canon S3 and her friends are also photographers with very impressive looking cameras, the usual digital SLRs and even a medium format antique. There were a lot of really expensive cameras at the Festival and good photographers as can be viewed on flikr.

Medium format camera Digital SLR

My daughter looked at me quizzically as I started screwing plastic bits on to my camera. It’s not like my old Pentax K1000, bayonet mount, this is a procedure where parts have to be manipulated. “What’s that?”, she asked. Quick witted as ever, I looked at the part in my hand and carefully read the neat white letters printed on the side, “It’s a wide-angle lens, dear, I’m trying it out.” She replied definitively that I should take crowd shots.

Daughter photo

There was great music at the festival and it was an opportunity to spend time with my daughter and her friends. I had never spent so much time with non-musicians at a festival. Some of them went shopping, so I joined them, as I had never considered shopping at a festival. The wares were very unique, like the small fairy wings some of the girls were wearing. A lot of time was spent talking and enjoying the sun and fine food. Relaxing, socializing and hearing the music like a lounge band at a fine restaurant, this was a very enjoyable and perfectly valid festival experience … but, I was panicking inside because I was missing everything! I had to go and listen to some music without having to talk to anyone. We coordinated cell phones, so we could meet up again, and I went off by myself.

Tommy Babin was there looking very folky with his masses of dark curly hair and huge beard. He was backing up “The Sojourners, a gospel flavoured vocal group. The group brought back memories from my childhood attendance at the Highway Gospel Church in Toronto as they sang familiar tunes. Steve Dawson was a standout, playing both electric guitar and pedal steel with equal confidence.

I could have taken a photo of the group, but I have invested heavily in SD cards for the S2, that are smaller than the A80 uses. As I prepared to take a photo, I received an “out of memory” message. At first, I tried to erase some other pictures, but there was too much sun to see the display. After a few minutes of frustration, trying to block the sun so I could see what I was erasing, I gave up and just enjoyed the set, then I went to a shady spot and cleared room on the card.

I heard a number of world music folk groups during the two days including Bachir Attar and the Master Musicians of JaJouka on the main stage and several inspiring groups including one from India (Northern instrumentation with Southern Karnatic influenced vocals) on Stage 2. I didn’t get a chance to see Marc, who was behind the desk mixing, but the result was a very high quality example of live sound reinforcement. I bet he took some good photos too. I will add him to my collection of photographers some other time when I catch him in action.

The groups that really impressed me were the fusion ensembles. The banjo and kora combination was so unexpectedly well matched as Jayme Stone and Mansa Sissoko wove their melodic lines together. This seemed to be a gathering of banjos as Bela Fleck was in his usual good form. I missed my friend Mei Han and her group Red Chamber as well as several other “must see” choices, but heard a concert that was not programmed to happen over on Stage 5.

Pepe + violin + 2 guitars

The group consisted of Joseph (Pepe) Danza, with his world music kit, a Eastern European violinist (who was incredibly soulful), two guitarists and a bass player who might be from “Spirit of the West”. This was one of the best shows I saw and the rest of the crowd agreed as we called them back for an encore.

Joseph (Pepe) Danza

Then the main stage took over the action and I was too far back to really do anything but enjoy the music. Then I got a picture of one photographer, my daughter, before she ran off to enjoy her pass privileges.

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Then I took the crowd shots.

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Lanterns in the sunset

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