Ottawa Folk Festival Britannia Park, Ottawa ON August 14 to August 17
Published Aug 25, 2008In the midst of one of the rainiest summers on record, the sun pierced through the rain clouds sporadically enough to warm the Ottawa Folk Festival stage at picturesque Britannia Park. Montreals Genticorum helped open the weekend serenading the crowd with swirling fiddle and bouncy flute loops. Spiral Beach kept the festival moving with two high-energy performances as the teenage bastard children of the Faint and Bow Wow Wow shouted and flailed sweet melodies between each other and the audience. Vancouver Islands Wil alternated between Springsteen-style stomping and posing that worked better on his outdoor performance than inside the Dance Tent. The Duhks caught the ear of the most casual festivalgoer proving to be one of the most popular and well-received acts of the weekend as the Sadies, looked road worn and ragged but nonetheless punched out a vital career-spanning set. Odetta, at age 77, looked as gorgeous as she sounded; seated and wrapped in swaddling clothes, "The Voice Of The Civil Rights Movement brought the audience to a stand-still with an arresting and gentle performance. Vieux Farka Toure, son of Ali Farka Toure, mixed modern and traditional sounding Mali music. Sarah Harmer was welcomed like an adopted Ottawan and responded with an intimate, roots-inspired set, closing Saturday night. Broken Social Scene headlined Friday night, playing to the biggest and most un-Folk-Fest audience. Looking bloated, exhausted and drugged, the band proved that they can blow collective minds, even on auto-pilot. An amazing mix of old songs and Broken Social Scene Presents material, the bands set culminated with an impromptu Amy Millan a cappella number that left the entire beachside holding their breath. Rufus Wainwright closed Sunday giving Odetta a run for the most elegant looking performer, as he belted out a marvellous set alternating between piano and guitar. Joined by his mother Kate McGarrigle on piano, he closed the festival with his version of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow. As a large swarm of insects gently danced around Rufus, the Ottawa Folk Festival came to an end as an easy come down to a beautiful trip.