Folk Frenzy 2018

There are 19 reasons to hit the fest. Here are 17 of them

Music | by Stephen Whitworth

The days will soon grow noticeably shorter and the first leaves will change hue from summertime green to a shade I will bitterly call “autumnal turd”. I don’t like it any more than you, but tree foliage is fickle and treacherous and we are all at its mercy.

The good news: there’s one hero standing between us and the depressing, inevitable march of seasons. One force for light and happiness in a fallen world! One champion to dream a dream of unending summer!

That hero is the Regina Folk Festival. Hail and praise it, sisters, brothers and loveable others, but most of all, love it, because it loves you.

This fall marks my, oh god, 20th year in Regina, but on the bright side* that means this year’s Regina Folk Festival is my 19th — and since I’ve never had anything other than a great time at the RFF, that’s 19 years of happy memories. To celebrate those weekends, here are 19 thoughts on this 49th annual Folk Festival. It’s a numbered list, because if I’ve learned one thing from Sesame Street, it’s that counting is fun.†

1. THE FOLK FESTIVAL MAKES DOWNTOWN AWESOME A city’s downtown is only as good as the people who bring it to life and over my two decades here Regina’s has steadily become good. More great people, more cool shops, more awesome restaurants and (and I wasn’t expecting this but I’ll take it) really good local beer, everywhere. The Regina Folk Festival is the temporal nexus of an increasingly spectacular downtown calendar, and the people who visit this urban music carnival make the entire city centre a better place for three days every year.

2. NEKO CASE! One of my favourite musicians evarrr is back, this time touring her new album Hell-On. The record was preceded by a teaser video of Case singing about god while being slithered-on by live snakes. Yeah. Like I wasn’t enough of a fan already.‡  Case is Saturday Night’s headliner. See you in the dance zone!

3. THERE IS SO MUCH AWESOME FOOD Folk Fest’s food tents are the best, with representatives of some of this town’s tastiest eateries as well as wandering food trucks. Nom!

4. THERE’S EVEN MORE AWESOME FOOD There are also a ton of great restaurants in the downtown area for anyone who needs a break from Victoria park or just wants to go indoors. Personal recommendations: too many to list, but try Caraway (Indian) and Siam (Thai). Both are increds.

5. FOOD! CAN’T STOP! Lots of good breakfast places downtown, too, including pubs with weekend brunch specials.

6. TANYA TAGAQ! This top Canadian talent could go supernova at any moment. Seeing her at an intimate festival like Regina’s is a rare treat. Don’t miss it! She’s on Saturday night, right before Neko.

7. LIGHTNING: SO INFREQUENT! I can remember maybe four rain delays out of almost 60 nights over 19 years. Folk Fest weekends typically range from gorgeous to lovely, and the RFF has clearly made some kind of pact with the weather gods to keep the tornadoes, hail, snow and lava away. Or maybe the weather gods aren’t the bunch of jerks people make them out to be, did you ever think of that?

8. BEEER Beer tents on the grounds! Local pints at nearby pubs! Star-eyed smile-face emoji, activate!

9. AFTER PARTIES! One of the great innovations of artist director/festival queen Sandra Butel’s glorious reign are the Friday and Saturday post-fest parties at the Exchange. Be there or be so very square.

10. BRUCE COCKBURN! Most arthritic shamblers of my vintage forged their politics listening to punk rock, but Cockburn classics like “If I Had A Rocket Launcher” kept Young Steve’s eye on the Anti-Imperialism pie. Cockburn’s up Sunday night, plus he has a free daytime workshop Sunday at 4:10 on Sunlit Stage 2.

11. GIRL POWER Roughly two-thirds of this year’s artists are female. #sogood #culturalmarketcorrection

12. ULTIMATE WELLNESS Leaving your couch, going outside and meeting new people makes you healthier, mentally, emotionally and physically. It’s just a fact (#science). Hanging out in a harmonious crowd of music lovers is best of all. It’s spiritually salubrious!

13. MICHAEL FRANTI! You love him, he loves you. Mainstage, Sunday, 10:10. He’s also leading a yoga thing Sunday afternoon in Central Park, a few blocks south of the festival. Neat!

14. PETS! Animals aren’t allowed inside the fenced-off area but the rest of the fest is a public space so you can expect to meet infinity doggos and their friendly and responsible owners. There may or may not be rogue individuals with other pets — birds, rodents, reptiles. That’s kind of fun!

15. MERCH TENT MANIA Buying apparel, albums and other goodies is a great way to support your favourite artists. T-shirt me up!

16–18. A FULL WEEKEND OF MUSIC, FUN, FOOD & FROLICKING Why pretend? There’s so much to see and do at the Regina Folk Festival that no 19-item list could begin to cover it. You’ll have to check it out for yourself. Did I mention the insane amount of free daytime programming? So no excuses!

19. GUIDED BY GOPHERS Everything else you could possibly want to know can be found in the Regina Folk Festival guide, inserted into this very issue of Prairie Dog, a local paper made by friendly people who love you. Hooray for everything, and see you in Victoria Park!


* Kidding! Regina’s fine (most of the time!) and when I pick on it I do so with love (or something like it).

† Also: chefs should stick to elevators, animated pinball is trippy, Grover > Elmo and “S” is for “Superman”.

‡ The author may or may not have several pet snakes including such cuties as Leonard, Fritz, Penelope.