Mariposa Folk Festival featuring Gordon Lightfoot, Sylvia and Ian Tyson, Wooden Sky, Murray McLauchlin, Elliott Brood Tudhope Park, Orillia ON July 9-11

Mariposa Folk Festival featuring Gordon Lightfoot, Sylvia and Ian Tyson, Wooden Sky, Murray McLauchlin, Elliott Brood Tudhope Park, Orillia ON July 9-11
This year marked the 50th anniversary of the Mariposa Folk Festival, and the main stage lineup boasted many returning Canadiana folk icons, while the side stages were aglow with younger talent.

The Saturday set from Beyond the Pale was a tight mixture of Jewish folk, bluegrass and Balkan sounds. Their intricate rhythms and graceful sound was invigorating and refreshing. Later that afternoon, Sharon and Bram, minus Lois, gave a set that was infectious and so incredibly earnest that you could not help but get out of your seat to swoon. Saturday afternoon also featured some fine bluegrass and sweet finger-picking tunes from the eclectic Grass Mountain Hobos, while Catherine MacLellan played a set that sounded ethereal and pure.

Elliott Brood was a crowd pleaser: their folk rock offerings were raucous and tight. And Ohbijou and Zeus paired up for a breezy workshop on the Bohemian Embassy stage next to the waters of Lake Couchiching. The two bands melded amid a maze of instruments to create a soft and airy sound. Fittingly, Mariposa's artist in residence, Travis Shilling, had a workshop at Studio Point, which was only a few steps away from the Bohemian stage.

During the weekend, the music played by the many artists who graced the Bohemian stage intertwined with the creative pulse set by Shilling and the painters at Studio Point. This pulse seemed to work together in order to produce a rich and inspired atmosphere. Across the park, however, Saskatchewan's Little Miss Higgins, a pint-sized powerhouse, nearly raised the roof with her infectious charm and catchy tunes. The Deep Dark Woods played twangy, real, and gorgeously arranged sets all weekend that seemed to melt the hearts of the listeners. The Wooden Sky likewise brought a sense of authenticity to the stage; the narratives of their songs were certainly compelling.

Later Sunday afternoon, the Sultans of Swing ripped up the Pub tent in a workshop that also featured the Breakmen. Sunday night, however, slowly drew more and more people to the main stage as it was the night to tribute Mariposa's musical past: perhaps nothing pleased the crowd more than hearing Murray McLauchlin singing about that dusty old farmer and his old tractor wheel. Both Sylvia and Ian Tyson, in separate sets, put on solid performances. And surprise special guests Jim Cuddy and Greg Keelor played songs that were smooth, pretty and tight.

Closing up the night was a weathered Gordon Lightfoot. While the volume may not have been quite right for Lightfoot, or perhaps it was the open nature of the large stage he played on, if you listened closely enough, you could still hear his magic as he quietly played on for the Sunshine City.