Where Calgary - - ENTERTAINMENT -

One of the city’s big­gest and most an­tic­i­pated events, Calgary Folk Mu­sic Fes­ti­val (page 36), is a four-day, fam­i­lyfriendly, cul­tural and mu­si­cal jam­boree that has been go­ing strong for 38 years. More than 53,000 mu­sic lovers (not to men­tion a small staff and an army of com­mu­nity vol­un­teers) take over Prince’s Is­land Park to revel in genre-bend­ing mu­sic and ground-break­ing col­lab­o­ra­tions.

As the fes­ti­val’s artis­tic di­rec­tor, Kerry Clarke is re­spon­si­ble for scour­ing the globe to find the most ex­cit­ing, buzz-wor­thy mu­si­cians and bring them to Calgary for one week­end in July. She says the best thing about her job is “be­ing sur­rounded by awe­some col­leagues in the of­fice and around the world who are on the cut­ting edge of cul­ture and cre­ativ­ity.”

Over the course of more than 20 years work­ing with the Calgary Folk Mu­sic Fes­ti­val, Clarke has helped to de­fine what con­sti­tutes “folk mu­sic”— some­thing that can be dif­fi­cult, if not im­pos­si­ble, to nail down.

“Def­i­ni­tions of mu­si­cal styles are al­ways evolv­ing as are peo­ple’s per­cep­tions of what terms mean,” Clarke says. “Folk to me is from two branches—ei­ther based on the tra­di­tions of dif­fer­ent cul­tures and the evo­lu­tion of (those tra­di­tions), or orig­i­nal singer-song­writ­ers. But the de­liv­ery of those can be through or­ches­tral pop, hip-hop, world mu­sic, blues, coun­try—it’s a big um­brella with cre­ativ­ity and orig­i­nal­ity at the core.”

“It also sig­ni­fies a pro­gram­ming and event for­mat with a wide va­ri­ety of artists, in­clud­ing icons and up­starts, with a lot of op­por­tu­nity for dis­cov­ery,” Clarke says. One of the ways Calgary Folk Mu­sic Fes­ti­val fos­ters dis­cov­ery and in­no­va­tion is through “work­shops,” a unique show for­mat that brings di­verse artists to­gether on stage to jam and col­lab­o­rate live, cre­at­ing spon­ta­neous, once-in-a-life­time per­for­mances.

“We used to jok­ingly say folk was a fourlet­ter word that starts with an ‘f’ and ends with a ‘k.’”

Clarke says she’s ex­cited to see so many of the per­for­mances this year, among them in­no­va­tive hip-hop group BADBADNOTGOOD, singer-song­writer Car­sie Blan­ton, English soul mu­si­cian Michael Ki­wanuka, and Mbong­wana Star, a seven-piece Con­golese band.

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