Sunday, July 12, 2015

Mariposa Folk Festival Musings Part 1

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One of the longest running folk festivals took place last weekend over the course of three days on July 3, 4 and 5 along the shores of Lake Couchiching and Lake Simcoe in Orillia, Ontario.  The Mariposa Folk Festival took place for the 55th time and in part 1 of a two-part story, we'll talk a little about the festival and why you should go and focus on the headliners of the weekend.

With this being my first experience at Mariposa, I wasn't sure what to expect.  I knew it would be a great time, but I've been used to attending mainstream country music festivals such as Jamboree In The Hills and the Havelock Country Jamboree.  The Mariposa experience is incredible. It is a treasure on the Canadian musical landscape.  The music is first rate, from the main stage to the side stages that operate during the day, and the Mariposa Pub Tent that operates well in to the evening.  You can have virtually any kind of experience that you're looking for at Mariposa.  If you want to have a big party, you can do it.  If you would like a quiet and reflective time, Mariposa offers Tai Chi and yoga classes in the mornings.  If you want to eat first class food and drink first class beer, Mariposa has you covered in that regard as well, with food and craft beer selections to satisfy any palate. An artisans area and artist merchandise tent are also on hand if you wish to purchase music, instruments, clothing and so much more.  Mariposa will take place on July 8, 9 and 10 in 2016, so please join in the fun next summer.

Of course the main reason everyone attends the Mariposa Folk Festival is for the music. This years' lineup featured headliners Mary Chapin Carpenter, Lucinda Williams and Adam Cohen closing out the shows on each night respectively.  Supporting on the main stage on Friday night was legendary singer-songwriter Jimmy Webb.  Many of you may not have heard of Jimmy Webb, but you have definitely heard his songs.  Performing with a grand piano as his only accompaniment, Mr. Webb kicked off the show with "Highwayman", which was a number 1 song in 1985 for Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson, collectively known as "The Highwaymen."  Next up was Mr. Webb's anti-Vietnam Way song "Galveston", which was recorded by Webb's longtime friend, Mr. Glen Campbell. It was quite interesting to hear Mr. Webb speak about the relationship he had with Mr. Campbell given that some of Campbell's biggest and most famous hits were written by Mr. Webb. Other Webb-penned hits that were written for other artists include "MacCarthur Park" and "The Moon's A Harsh Mistress."  

Mary Chapin Carpenter closed off the mainstage festivities on Friday night and delivered arguably the finest all-around performance of the weekend.  Performing with a two-piece backing band, Ms. Carpenter delivered a wonderful acoustic set that included some of her biggest hits from her mainstream country music days.  A stripped-down version of the Lucinda Williams written "Passionate Kisses" breathes new life in to an already stellar song about everyone deserving happiness in their lives.  Ms. Carpenter's own "The Hard Way" was performed flawlessly with its message of strength while dealing with adversity hitting home with many in the audience.  New music was also introduced with the beautifully written "The Things That We Become" performed and introduced as coming out on an as yet unreleased album.  

Saturday and Sunday headliners included Lucinda Williams and Adam Cohen, son of the late, great Leonard Cohen.  Two showstealers of the main stage on the weekend were complete surprises.  Ruth Moody delivered a beautiful set of Americana and bluegrass, a set that featured a bluegrass version of the Bruce Springsteen hit "Dancing In The Dark."  One of the most talented musicians in the world performed several sets over the course of the weekend, as Gordie MacKeeman and His Rythym Boys set the bar high for Ms. Williams prior to her appearance.  Gordie MacKeeman is one of the premier fiddle players in the world today, and that's not an exaggeration.  A pure entertainer, he can work the crowd, sing, play fiddle and tap dance.  They deliver a show that is not to be missed.  The future of Americana is indeed bright with the likes of Ruth Moody and Gordie MacKeeman on board.

As if the mainstage show in the evening wasn't enough, there were many incredible performances during the daytime on several stages throughout Tudhope Park.  Part two of this write up will talk about those.  You won't want to miss it, I promise.  In the meantime, check out this clip of Lucinda Williams performing West Memphis from the Mariposa Folk Festival on July 4, 2015.  Enjoy!

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