Folk Fest Feud Part Deux

by nicole on May 13, 2012

I think it’s fantastic that so many of us in the club are passionate about promoting Edmonton’s folk festival, and that so many of us are able to be critical and objective about a festival that has been selling out the last few years. If you read my Folk Fest post last year, you’ll know I fall in the latter camp. To sum up my argument, I’ll borrow @amvanimere‘s words: ”A built-in audience and guaranteed sell-out should be reason to be more adventurous, not less.”

I find it a challenge to be moved by anecdotal evidence and an emotional rationale, much less than the resounding cry of “It’s a tradition!” So I’ve gathered the lineups from 2010 and 2011 for both Calgary and Edmonton’s folk fests, and I’m asking you give me the numbers. Understanding this is a relatively small sample, 2010 was when I moved back to Edmonton and started considering going to folk fests, it’s also the summer after I met the fine folks that make up our #yegmusicclub. This upcoming folk festival season will be our 3rd together. And make no doubt about it, if EFMF brings in a kick-ass lineup, I will be happy to eat crow and go to my city’s festival. But, that is what I require- not some crap that I don’t understand about “magic on the hill”. If you truly want me to drink the kool-aid, you’re going to have to step up and buy this girl a ticket.

Back to the survey- it’s a doozy as there were over 200 unique artists to play Calgary or Edmonton in 2010 and 2011. Interesting bits to note, Edmonton had 5 artists that overlapped 2010 and 2011; Calgary had no repeats. There were 17 artists that played both festivals, most that played the same year, but 3 played Calgary in 2010, Edmonton in 2011 (Delhi 2 Dublin, Karla Anderson and Etran Finatawa) and 1 played Edmonton first, then Calgary (Patrick Watson). Any artist that played both festivals, I removed from the survey.

I hope to add in 2012 lineups to my findings once EFMF announces it, and if you have any feedback on how the responses are phrased, other questions that would be useful, etc., I’m all ears. And for total disclosure, yes, I plan on taking my own survey. I’ll firmly be checking the “asshole” demographic.



{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Christine May 14, 2012 at 6:14 pm

I took your survey after seeing it posted by EFMF on Facebook and erroneously thinking that they were attempting to get feedback to improve their lineups in the future. Then, I realized it was made by this site and checked it out, and I just have to say: where have you people been my whole life?!? (And by whole life I mean the two years I’ve been living in Edmonton.) I feel the same way you do about the EFMF – I’m not going until they give me a reason to go. In the meantime, I’m going to go to Calgary and see Jeff Mangum.


nicole May 14, 2012 at 6:30 pm

We just had a meeting, but we’re always looking for new members- next meeting is June 17 (Sunday) – 2pm at Original Joe’s Varsity (upstairs). And if you’re on twitter, I’m @nicolecreates and I run the club account @yegmusicclub — we tweet about music all the time and going to shows and important club info ;)


nicole May 31, 2012 at 1:19 pm

I lied. It’s June 10th (Still a Sunday, still at 2pm, still at OJ’s- upstairs). Please come by and introduce yourself- we’re not scary!


Trevor May 15, 2012 at 10:10 am

You included Gaye Delorme?? Why?

You missed a bunch of others then, like say, Jimi Hendrix, etc etc.



nicole May 15, 2012 at 11:28 am

I included the lineups from Edmonton and Calgary’s 2010 and 2011 fests. His name was included on the 2011 EFMF lineup. He was scheduled to perform but obviously couldn’t due to his passing. I didn’t carefully screen each artist– it’s more important to note their prominence and the style of music they embody than the plausibility of being able to book them in the future (this entry and the Levon Helm Band’s results will be taken accordingly).


Trevor May 15, 2012 at 10:23 am

And Mortal Coil on the list too? C’mon now.

Working my way through the survey, I have the following thoughts:

1. CKUA does an absolutely amazing job in getting many names of artists out there by way of mentions and airplay. As I read a name, I often think ‘I’ve heard this one mentioned on CKUA…’

2. From the list of many many names I haven’t heard before, it seems that the Calgary fest is way more experimental and book many more lesser known acts. Is that a good thing? Depends on what demographic they wish to target. (or what their programming budget allows). Don’t get me wrong – I’m all for new, ‘undiscovered’ artists. But I wonder if the Calgary programming is weighted that heavily towards lesser-knowns, how does its demographic compare to Edmonton? I’d think that means a younger demo.

3. The Edmonton Folk Fest is without question a financial and artistic success. Could Edmonton stand to introduce a few more lesser knowns? Perhaps.

/random musings


nicole May 15, 2012 at 11:32 am

My personal opinion is that EFMF could book more acts geared to a younger audience, regardless of how well-known they are. They can afford to do this because of the financial success of the festival, and they can’t afford not to as I’d expect their main demographic is 5-10 years away from not attending the festival. That’s a speculation because they don’t seem to survey their audience for demographics.


Tanya C. May 25, 2012 at 4:29 pm

Hey Nicole,
When will the survey results be available? Looking forward to seeing them. It was quite a list!


nicole May 25, 2012 at 4:38 pm

End of the weekend I hope! Lots to go through :)


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