Day three of the 2023 Winnipeg Folk Festival brought another day of cool temperatures and more fantastic music. The afternoon workshop stages were packed with weekend folkies looking for a break from the city.
We started our afternoon off with a Rich Aucoin at Snowberry stage. Despite microphone issues and 11am energy from the audience, Aucoin did his best to get the crowd dancing. We moved on to the ‘Don’t Trad on Me’ workshop at Big Blue with Genticorum, Finjan, and Gedric Watson & Dirk Powell. You really can’t go wrong with a stage full of fiddles. We stuck around Big Blue for the ‘Intercontinental Overdrive’ workshop with three band we were looking forward to seeing – Balaklava Blues from Ukraine, Low Down Brass Band from Chicago, and Witch Prophet from Ethiopia. We moved back to the Snowberry for a packed stage of songwriters for the ‘Some of My Favourite Strings’ workshop featuring Arny Margaret, Myriam Gendron, Georgia Harmer, Kevin Kaine (of The Grapes of Wrath), and Whitehorse.
The workshops didn’t stop there, and we headed over to the Green Ash stage for the ‘Who Do You Dub?’ workshop with three fantastic electronic artists – electric powwow pioneer DJ Shub (with Boogat), Congolise-Canadian, and Polaris Prize winner Pierre Kwenders, and French space disco duo Ko Shin Moon. We finished our afternoon a little more chill at Spruce Hollow in the forest with Aysanbee, Evan Redsky, Fontine, and Julian Taylor for the ‘One Nation Under Groove’ workshop.
Big Blue at Night
Saturday night at Big Blue brought earth-shaking bass to the Winnipeg Folk Festival. The night kicked off with 2022 Polaris Prize winner Pierre Kwenders who got the crowd dancing early in the evening. Kwenders was followed by South Korean prog rock band Dongyang Gozupa blending traditional Korean music (including a hammer dulcimer) with with bass and percussion. Yes, it was as amazing as it sounds. Third up at Big Blue was Ukrainian folk-noir band Balaklava Blues. The band blends traditional polyphonic music, with driving electronics and stories of revolution and war. Closing out the night was festival favourite DJ Shub. His blend of electronica with powwow music and dancers kept the party going late into the night.
Saturday on the main stage started off with Nashville-based singer-songwriter Sunny War. Known for her incredible guitar virtuosity, she was playing tracks from her latest album Anarchist Gospel. Following her, local country music phenom Boy Golden stepped in at the last moment after another artist was unable to attend. His fans were thrilled to see him on the main stage after the success of his debut album ‘Church of Better Daze’. Following Boy Golden, country/Americana superstar Charley Crockett brought his southern charm and Texas drawl to Winnipeg to everyone’s delight. Closing out the night was another last-minute fill in after Orville Peck had to back out of the festival in June. Gregory Alan Isakov, another fantastic South African singer-songwriter, broughthis chill indie music and a fantastic light show to a as a great end to Saturday night.