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Thursday is a weird day for the Winnipeg Folk Festival. After spending
the night in respective campgrounds, quiet or festival, one wakes up
ready to start the day. However, music doesn't start until 6:00 PM. In
the festival campground, a person could walk around and check out the
art installations, meet new friends, and/or start a jam session. In
quiet camping the atmosphere is more laid back. People crowd around
cook stoves, read and/or take naps. It was my second meal of the day
that made me late for Good Old War on the mainstage. I arrived just in
time to check out Bill Frisell.
Bill Frisell is billed on the schedule as All We Are Saying: Bill
Frisell Explores the Music of John Lennon. Explore is an appropriate
verb for Frisell's treatment of John Lennon's songs. Frisell's
wandering jazz guitar work transformed the simple pop songs into
barely recognizable smooth jazz jams which caused one audience member
to comment, “[It is] like elevator muzak,” as the audience member
wandered into the tavern.
I'm mostly familiar with Billy Bragg because of his Mermaid Avenue
collaborations with Wilco, which continued the works of Woody Guthrie.
Bragg treated the Winnipeg Folk Festival Audience to several covers of
Guthrie's work, including a cover of “Ingrid Bergman,” for which Bragg
took extra time to introduce. He mused that in the United Kingdom,
Woody Guthrie is not famous for writing “This Land is Your Land.”
“Woody Guthrie” he said, “Is famous for writing on his guitar: This
Machine Kills Fascists.”
From there, the stage became a soap box for Bragg, despite his claim
that “You can't change the world from the stage.” He praised the work
of the Occupy Movement and deplored the free market.
Bragg ended his set with a slightly more cheerful sing-along to his
song “New England,” which felt more honest than much of what came
I don't want to change the world.
I'm not looking for a new England.
I'm just looking for another girl.
Ozomatli's world and latin flavor brought out the biggest dance crowd
up to that point. Their energy level ran high through the entirety of
their set, with synchronized dance moves and pump 'em up stage banter.
They implored the audience to get on their feet, a rare occurrence in
the tarp area to jump along with their final song. They never sat down
Somali-Canadian poet, rapper, singer and songwriter K'Naan kept the
crowd on its feet with feel-good worldly hip-hop. He got the whole
crowd singing along to his 'cover' of Bruno Mars' “The Lazy Song.”
“This is my favorite song to do on days like this,” he said about the
song he co-wrote with Mars.
As the night grew later, a good portion of the crowd, including
myself, started to make its way to the exits. I, however, was drawn
back by a beautiful cover of Neil Young's “Heart of Gold,” which, for
me, was a wonderful cap to the second night of the Winnipeg Folk