Hillbilly Highway – Recovering from a wild week(end) at Bird’s Hill


by Sheldon Birnie

It’s that time of year again, where brain cells struggle to regrow after an onslaught of booze, chemicals, smoke, and sun. The week(end) that is Winnipeg Folk Fest failed, once again, to disappoint this festival goer. With a diverse and interesting line-up, beautiful weather, and wild & wacky times in the campground, I’m feeling exhausted and inspired once again.

Like many other festival goers, one of, if not the main draw, of the festival is the time spent with friends, new & old, in the campground, or lounging in a daze in some shady spot, discovering new music and digging on classic artists. Unlike past years, I wasn’t clamping at the bit with regards to any of the headliners, though Dr. John pumped me up, and Cat Empire had me boogying down like some sort of freak against my better judgement. And I did have a blast digging local pals Del Barber and the JD Edwards Band do their thing on the mainstage and off in the shade during workshops.

I had a chance to chat with Lindi Ortega (interview to come later, once details on her new album Tin Star are closer to release) and catch some of her act. Such a great, fresh voice in country music. Hayes Carll is always fun to see, too, especially on a small stage with just Grant Siemens picking away to his right side. And as my coworker Zach predicted, Leon Redbone was a treat to see on a Sunday afternoon. A surprise visit to Spruce Hollow, one of the new stages also provided the biggest surprise artist mash-up I’ve seen in years, with Cold Specks, Kaki King, and Niyaz laying down some ethereal sounds that mellowed the minds of hundreds of appreciative folkers in attendance.

And so now I have a little time to breathe here as we put together the new issue of Stylus. We’ll be featuring a preview of the Brandon Folk Festival here on the web, and we’ve got a round-up of August festivals to come in the new issue. Festival season is far from over here in Manitoba, so stay tuned for more great parties. Give the old whip an oil change, and hit the Highway.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *