The 2009 Calgary Folk Music Festival kicked off at the Ship & Anchor pub Wednesday, May 13 with mini-sets by recently announced festival performers Michael Bernard Fitzgerald, Dragon Fli Empire and Jay Crocker.
In its 30th year, the festival boasts both familiar and fresh faces, including headliners Michael Franti and Spearhead, playing Thursday night. The Decemberists, hip-hop group Arrested Development, the United Kingdom's Gomez and the Mekons play on Friday. Saturday features Sarah Harmer and Steven Page, with Loreena McKennitt and Mavis Staples on Sunday.
The festival has come a long way from its humble roots as "The Travelling Folk Festival and Good Time Medicine Show," muses artistic director Kerry Clarke.
"In those old days, they didn't even have cell phones, so it was a lot harder to be organized," says Clarke.
In addition to the 62 artists featured this year, the festival will also hold an exhibition of festival lore, including photographs, videos, T-shirts and posters, as well as an exhibit of paintings by the Mekons' Jon Langford. Dubbed "30 Years of Folk," the paintings and other festival memorabilia will be displayed throughout July.
"We're going to be putting on '30 Years of Folk' in the space below the IMAX theatre," added Clarke.
In addition to his paintings being on display, Langford will also be a part of the festival's 4th annual Folk Boot Camp: a series of workshops providing attendees a rare opportunity to learn a variety of musical styles from Folk Fest performers.
Tickets are on sale now for the Calgary Folk Festival online at ticketmaster.ca