I imagine that many of you don’t think about me as much as I do. As a result, you probably didn’t realize that I have just spent three days sitting on a tarp in the middle of a park watching hour upon hour of truly wonderful music. Yes, it’s that time again and I spent the better part of the week-end at the Edmonton Folk Fest. If you’ve never been you can get ready for it by reading my primer on all things folk (parts one, two and three) and put it in your calendar for next year. Trust me, it will be worth the wait and while you’re here you can visit our other major attraction, the almost largest mall in the world. So plan on it. In the meantime let me help you understand the profound effect this event has on someone like me. And why this week you won’t be hearing much about being shallow.
This year the folk fest celebrated its 34th year of bringing the best music in the world to this little town of mine. Over four days the hills of our river valley are transformed into a city within a city, one with no worries, no crime, and a whole lot of organic food. There are 25,000 people on the hill, all of whom have clearly prepared for this event by raiding their own, or their parents’ closets for something, anything really, that was fashionable sometime around 1968. Or made of hemp. Perhaps organic cotton. And rather ill-fitting. There’s dancing and singing and lots of arm waving to the beats of the music. Or not. It’s a collage of hipsters and hippies, Mothers with babes in their arms, men and women sharing the stories of their lives on their tattooed bodies, Grandmas and Grandpas remembering what it was like to be young. Everyone seems happy, like there is no place else in the world they would rather be. And therein lies the problem for me.
You see, it’s tough to be shallow on the hill given the cacophony of not so shallow phenomenon that confronts me at just about every turn. Saturday morning as I walk past the pre-festival yoga class I can almost feel the chakras swirling onto the path in front of me. A short while later my eye catches the rather trendy, handmade purses crafted from recycled tires hanging beside the “enviroresin” jewelry over at the merch tents. Before I know it my bff Kev (you remember “the Kev”) let’s me know that the song he just heard brought a tear to his eye. Who would of thought! Then there’s the guy in the skirt on the tarp in front of me which imho, is a smidgen too tight and leaves me with questions about what he wears to his regular job. And as if all of this is not enough to rock my boat, topple my house of cards, towards the end of the evening I find myself face to face with the woman beside me who, when the MC encourages everyone to “hug the person on your left” took him at his word. And there I was, on her left. With nightfall comes the stars, the candles, the swaying, and the sing along with Canadian icon Bruce Cockburn who implores us to save the lions and pretty much everything else in the world. It’s all just a bit overwhelming.
And so it is that after three days of hangin’ with the folks, I find myself a little off balance. Which is why, with all due respect to the yoga people, I’m going to take some time to reconnect with my inner self, or as they might say, recenter. But please don’t worry. With a little luck, I’ll be feeling better in no time at all.