Sunday, July 5, 2009
We finally got to the festival earlier in the afternoon, rather than just before the main acts opened at 5pm on the Main Stage. We were rewarded immediately for our efforts by catching Luke Doucet in the beer tent. We wiggled into second row seats and just had a ball. There's nothing like being up front to get a more personalized experience. It just makes all the difference. Turning to Carol, I saw the same expression on her face indicating something to the effect, “why didn't we do this sooner?”.
I kind of resisted going into the beer tent because I assumed it was going to be more about drinking rather than music. This proved to be an unworthy conclusion because the next act, April Verch, was incredible. She played old tyme Virginian reels mixed in with newer material on her fiddle and tapped danced while playing, to boot. With just a stand up bass man and acoustic guitarist she brought the house down. It was an epiphany.
By the time we met up with Vince and Christie it was time to head over to the Main Stage. The last three acts were extraordinary. The first was April Verch. We were hoping to see an even greater performance that the one we had seen under the tent but that, I suppose, could not be topped. She was excellent, but unable to eclipse her earlier, hand clapping, foot stomping musical romp. She was followed by Valdy. He is some kind of Canadian legend something akin to a cross between Pete Seeger and Gordon Lightfoot. I liked his acoustic set, his banter and musical stories. I would even consider buying one of his cd's if I found one in a second hand store. He is one of those artists that appears to have actually lived the life and I applaud him for that.
The Festival's headliner and closing act was Buffy Saint-Marie. Man, has she changed over the years. She's got to be in her late 60's and is a dynamo. With a big band behind her and several Indian women singing back up vocals, she was on fire. I'm not too keen on the Indian rights material, songs lamenting the poor treatment of native Americans (they call themselves The First Nation People in Canada) but “Universal Soldier” and some of her other hits were terrific. Carol liked all her native whooping, finding it very intense and powerful.
She is coming from a good place and means well enough, and I'm sure I would feel likewise if I'd been born a native American, but I wasn't. I'm a descendant of the invaders, the conquering people. I just don't have the same sentiments as the original people who were essentially invaders themselves. In fact, I think the Canadians made a mistake in allowing the Indians to call themselves The First Nation. That sort of sets up a precedent that inverts the actual social order. I don't think Indians should be persecuted, nor should they be placed on a pedestal and revered for their affinity with mother nature. All their talk about remembering former abuses should be remembered and regretted, but once they get on to having the land returned to them is where I draw the line. Native Americans need to get over the fact that they were invaded and conquered. For better or for worse, it happened. Their desire to turn back the clock is not going to change a thing. In fact, I think they should be satisfied with the outcome. Throughout history conquered peoples were either enslaved or exterminated. Moving the Indians onto reservations though surely not a pleasant experience must be considered better than what the ancient Romans or Mongols did in the wake of their expansion. Anyway, Buffy ended the night with a great song to help us realize that we are all a part of the living whole. Amen to that.
Overall, I have to say the Canadians are a tame lot. Once the encore ended, the stage manager told everyone to pick up any trash nearby and go home. They needed to be out of the park before the 11pm curfew. Not so much as a whimper from the crowd. We all went back to camp, exhilarated and exhausted.