Edmonton Folk Festival Gallagher Park, Edmonton AB August 7 to 10

Edmonton Folk Festival Gallagher Park, Edmonton AB August 7 to 10
The Edmonton Folk Fest gets accused pretty much every year of having an inferior indie line-up to Calgary’s version — and also of being unbearably Celtic. Deservedly so considering this year Calgary scored Calexico, A Hawk and A Hacksaw and Bill Callahan (Smog), and on closing night we saw not one but two Celtic bands directly lead up to the final spot by Chris Isaak. I still can’t get the sound of those fiddles out of my head, as the Duhks torturously belaboured "Whole Lotta Love.” Throw in a hill covered in too many hissing, territorial tarp-dwellers who remain seated the entire time, and it’s actually a pretty dumb place to seek any rock’n’roll fun. Too bad. Nonetheless, between sunny afternoon shows by the easygoing Carolina Chocolate Drops, the fabulously energetic Sadies and especially the fest’s ultimate headliner Chris Isaak, nuggets sparkled in the dirt. A workshop with Ron Sexsmith and the Sadies was the best of the weekend, as there were lots of covers so everyone could join in. While Cat Power bordered between hypnotic and sedative depending on who you poll (same with Aimee Mann), Isaak, almost as a dénouement, kicked the entire weekend over like Christ at a Wal-Mart built on his temple. First, dressed in a delicious pink cowboy suit, he stampeded up the hill through the crowd up onto some high-up scaffolding. Next, he whipped out a killer version Cheap Trick’s "I Want You to Want Me.” Finally, now wearing a suit of disco-ball mirrors, the handsome TV star creepily pretended to be an abducted child, taken away from his mommy by the band — right in the middle of "Baby Did a Bad Bad Thing.” It was evil, hilarious and wonderful, one of those moments you immediately sense becoming legend. And, of course, there was "Wicked Game.” The 78-hour wade through the "deedle-deedle-dee swamp” was worth it, by most accounts.