Vancouver Folk Music Festival

Dates and Venue July 19 - 21, 2019, Friday night 3pm - 11pm & Sat & Sun 9am to 11pm | Jericho Beach Park, Vancouver

Reviewer Aleana Reynolds

For this year’s Vancouver Folk Music Festival (VFMF), I’ve chosen a format of this review that will feature my favourite VFMF picks over the three days.

Best Overall Performances

1. Brother Tito Deler
I was lucky to arrive at the Park right on opening on Friday and catch two opening acts I’d been looking forward to seeing. With the grounds quickly filling, I grabbed the perfect spot under a tree stage-side to catch Brother Tito Deler ease the crowd into the evening with some smooth Mississippi blues. Deler is a master player of the acoustic resonator guitar, and accompanied by his sweet voice and lyrics, the songs “Butterflies in Bentonia” and “Lucille” were two of my favourites in the set.
2. Don McGlashan

Don McGlashan will always have a soft spot in this Kiwi’s heart! Always the showman, McGlashan had a great rapport with the audience, giving an intro and background to each song. He also played a couple songs from his Muttonbird days, including “The Heater”, and wrapping up the set with my favourite, the legendary song “Anchor Me”. It was hard not to feel homesick post this show!

Best Shows To Dance To

1. Los Pachamama Y Flor Amargo

Mexican singer-songwriter-instrumentalist Flor Amargo (of Los Pachamama Y Flor Amargo) is truly the standout artist in her band – she nabs top spot for performance energy at VFMF. Her presence both onstage - wild dancing and superb keyboard skills - and offstage - running out to dance with audience members - got an otherwise chilled-out Friday night audience on their feet.
2. Zaki Ibrahim
Juno nominee and RNB/Soul artist Zaki Ibrahim had the late-night Saturday audience grooving to tight beats in a show featuring great costumes – both Ibrahim and backup singers wore bejeweled lycra unitards – and choreography to match. Firing out songs one after the other, there was never a slow moment within this fantastic set.
3. Rebirth Brass Band
Rebirth Brass Band brought their strong New Orleans party vibe to the final night of the Festival. Their energy and ability to keep the crowd on their feet was admirable given they played a non-stop set that lasted over an hour! Obviously 36 years of experience (their youngest band member is 17 years old) playing together has honed their brass skills and it showed.
4. Tal National
I wanted to end the Festival with a dance party, and was pleasantly surprised to arrive at Tal National’s performance to see the entire audience already on their feet! The band’s core intent is to make people dance and they certainly brought it with their infectious traditional African rhythms performed by an all-dancing band. Notable was a Nigerian animal dance song which included moves for each animal for the audience to follow along with.

Best Francophone Band
Le Vent Du Nord

Le Vent Du Nord brought their Celtic feel to the main stage on Friday night. Their all-male harmonies and toe-tapping melodies were interspersed with mesmerizing ballads, and brought together by the perfect mix of fiddle, guitar, and accordion – a perfect set to settle down with accompanied by an amazing sunset.

Best Female Group
Larkin Poe

Sisters Megan and Rebecca Lovell (named Larkin Poe after their great-great-great-great-grandfather) were on fire on Saturday night with their rock-n-roll Nashville sound. Bringing tunes from their latest album Venom & Faith, the vocals in this set were mind-blowing, and both sisters wailed on the guitar.

Best Rock Set

Mike Farris & The Fortunate Few

I’ve categorized Mike Farris & The Fortunate Few’s sound as rock, but it was a mix of soul, gospel, and blues too. While much of this great set was accompanied by the full-band sound of The Fortunate Few, Farris performed a few solo acoustic songs on guitar, including a song he wrote for Canada at the Edmonton Folk Festival which garnered audience participation. Farris’ amazing voice waivered in “Tennessee Girl” – but he quickly picked it up again and continued to punch out hit after hit, ending with a standing ovation from the audience.

Best Dessert Vendor
Earnest Ice Cream

It would be remiss not to give a shout out to all the fabulous food vendors at VFMF. Local ice cream favourite Earnest Ice Cream attended VFMF again this year and I partook of their vegan flavours which are always delicious and went down a treat after a day in the hot sun. Vegan ice cream bars were also on sale this year too.

The VFMF continues to be one of the top music festivals in Vancouver over the Summer period. For those that haven’t discovered this gem, I highly recommend putting it into your calendar now for next year!

© 2019 Aleana Reynolds