A cure for the grey-sky blues

By Ruth Davenport

The third day of the festival opened under dubious grey skies, which may have accounted for the melancholy mood of the morning crowds.

High-energy acts such as Jenny Allen and the Rheostatics failed to elicit more than scattered applause and weak, watered-down cheers from the crowd. The closing number of the first set on the Bass Bros. stage, consisting of an improvised effort on the part of Bocephus King, the Rheostatics, Howe Gelb and the Cowboy Junkies, finally injected some life into the burgeoning crowds. As King spoofed the Beastie Boys’ "Paul Revere" and Rheostatics frontman Martin Tielli cut loose on the harmonica, onlookers who had huddled on the cold ground began to stretch, blink and then react to external stimuli.

All mayhem broke loose thereafter. Inattentive sound techs made sure artists duelled each other from far flung stages; and battik and incense permeated what gradually became an atmosphere more worthy of the "fest" in "Folk Fest." Even the melancholic, nostalgic set rendered by Spirit of the West, Kathy Mattea and Dougie MacLean couldn’t quell the spirits of the audience, now bubbling like a cappuccino maker on speed. By the time Corey Harris had finished with his steel guitar on the mainstage, even the geese were stomping their feet. Saturday finished on a high note, duty done, with another mob of dreadlocks and birkenstocks satiated for another day.

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