This weekend (September 14-15), Hamilton transformed a long stretch of James Street North into a concert and street party venue. For a day and a half the street was closed to cars to allow thousands of music and art lovers to enjoy Supercrawl. The festival hosted dozens of musical acts on four stages and filled the neighbourhood with drama, dance and visual arts installations and performances. Organized busking stages collected money for Warchild, the charity Supercrawl chose to sponsor at this year’s event.
Highlights for me: Terra Lightfoot, The Born Ruffians, and Owen Pallett.
Also the creative and thought provoking installations here and there throughout the venue.
Part of the street entertainment was “unofficial” busking. One unfortunate result of buskers setting up too close to each other was that their sound competed and it was hard to enjoy either one. I liked this unscheduled and impromptu part of the festival but some better location planning or even a friendly agreement to take turns playing sets would have solved that minor irritation.
The breathtaking Circus Orange
To Supercrawl organizers, volunteers, artists and performers – congratulations for reclaiming some street space (even temporarily) for art and music.
For 21 years Eaglewood Folk Festival has been bringing together music lovers and performers – and knows that they are often one and the same. At the end of August, a campground in the hamlet of Pefferlaw, Ontario, is the site of 2 ½ days of folk music. Eaglewood vision of “folk music” is very inclusive, including singer-songwriters, bluegrass bands, political satirists and world music.
But why write about a festival in a blog about open stages? Eaglewood also understands that folk music has an essential participatory element: songs of celebration, of protest, family singalongs, choruses that everyone can join in on. In addition to the thriving campfire jams that come alive at night, Eaglewood includes an open stage in its daytime programme to allow festival patrons to share and showcase their own music. This tradition is as old as the festival itself. Arthur Renwick hosted Saturday’s event which attracted 17 different players and singers to the little stage in the woods. We were treated to original compositions and covers and – best of all – impromptu collaboration. Magic amid the trees.
The ukulele workshop on Sunday furthered the cause of open music spaces. Host David Newland reinforced the importance of making music accessible to people and providing public places for sharing music. He challenges us all to ignore the voice that says we aren’t musicians and to explore ways to express the music we have in us.
So, as the summer draws to a close, festivals and campfires are done, I invite each of you to find a song circle, open mic, or jam where you can carry on sharing music through the winter. And maybe we’ll see you next year at Eaglewood.