With dozens of acts over its three days (July 18-20), the Vancouver Folk Music Festival can be intimidating. This is especially true of you just want to spend a few hours one afternoon at the Jericho Beach (4196 W. 4th) event, soaking up the sun near the water while enjoying some fabulous tunes.
With that in mind, here are a few musical recommendations. However, don’t let this stop you from checking out the complete lineup at the festival site (at festival.bc.ca), where you can also find ticket info.
1. Alejandro Escovedo and the Sensitive Boys – Former-punk-rocker-turned-roots-rock survivor. Writes some of the best rock ‘n’ roll songs you’ve never heard. Austin-based, and muy caliente. Check out the song “Can’t Make Me Run” from his most recent album, Big Station.
2. Alejandra Ribera – Divides her time between Montreal and Paris, sings in English French and Spanish. Released an acclaimed album, La Boca, earlier this year. Also won a Socan Songwriting Award for this track.
3. Oh My Darling – All-girl Winnipeg quartet gets the party started with old-time-y fiddle tunes drawing on multiple cultural influences (Métis, Appalachian, French). Alternately toe-tappy fun and enthralling melancholy. They don’t mind sharing the stage, either, as show in this video.
4. Great Lake Swimmers – Toronto indie-rock band revolving around the songs of frontman Tony Dekker. Literate and wistful. The group’s most recent album was New Wild Everything in 2012; the last time they appeared at the Vancouver Folk Music Festival was five years ago. Watch the band’s video for “Ballad of a Fisherman’s Wife” here.
5. Brasstronaut – We had to give at least one tip of the hat to a Vancouver band, and that plug goes to Brasstronaut. There are plenty of worthy local acts playing the three-day festival (including Pacifika, Fish and Bird, The Nautical Miles, and Jenny Ritter), but this sextet wins for its unclassifiable blend of rock, pop and jazz. Also, Brasstronaut’s second album, Mean Sun, was a critics’ fave. Watch a video for the song “Francisco” here.