Aug 17,18,19 tickets

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Sun Times Article 4: Music of Childhood

Every year Artistic Director James Keelaghan writes a series of 12 articles for the Owen Sound Sun Times previewing the Summerfolk Music and Crafts Festival

By James Keelaghan

We didn’t have kid’s music when I was kid. Well, we did sorta, but nothing pleasant happened in it. Cradles fell, babies cried, that sort of thing. You didn’t really want to linger. If my parents wanted to entertain us as kid’s they’d play Harry Belafonte, or lighter adult music. Kid’s music was there to teach us a lesson-don’t put your cradle in a tree and that sort of thing.

 

I was a late comer to children. My first, Tomas was born in 2006, Pato,in 2010. Because of that I wasn’t well acquainted with Fred Penner’s music. Not having children kind of insulates you from the kid’s music scene. It’s like physics lectures, or advanced mathematics. You know it’s there and people are doing it, but it really doesn’t seem to have any effect on your life.

 

Yet, I know Fred fairly well.  I’d see him at music functions in Manitoba and across the country. We’ve spent pleasant hours together in the backstage areas of various festivals. He’s an engaging  story teller. He has that rare ability to make you feel like you are the most important thing in his life while he is talking to you.

 

You know him in a way I never did.

 

I respect him as a musician and entertainer. I managed to do that, and not see a single episode of his TV show. Why would I? I didn’t have kids. In those days I slept late. The show ran in Canada and the US for an amazing 13 years. I missed every one.

 

Most of you are more clued in than me. If you were a kid, a parent or a grandparent from 1985-1997, you knew Fred. I wasn’t surprised that he’s one of the best loved performers that has ever played the festival. We harbour huge reserves of goodwill for the performers of our youth. When we are adults they can evoke some of our strongest memories.

 

He was and is very involved in the community at large and his spirit of involvement and inclusiveness was recognized when he was made a member of the Order of Canada and the Order of Manitoba. His musicianship has been recognized with eight Juno nominations and two Juno Awards, Parents Choice Awards and Prairie Music awards

 

He makes no secret of the fact that he was a bit lost after the TV series ended.  He had a very full schedule, though, as the demand for live shows never really slacked off.

 

Fred had a notion that kids who had seen his TV show wanted to reconnect with him.

Then a strange little thing happened. A promoter at a university wanted to hire him to do a show at the school’s pub. Strange as the thought was, the show sold out in quicker than you can say “the cat came back.” In fact it was oversold. The students kept him there for two and a half hours. College kids, with pints of beer, calling out for Baby Beluga, Take Good Care, Sandwiches and of course, The Cat Came Back.

 

Word got out on the college circuit. When he travels now to do a kids show, he often adds a college show. He’s done universities from PEI to BC. He may, in fact, be busier now than when he had the TV show.

 

Last year Fred to it one step further. He recorded a CD named Hear the Music.The album was produced by long time collaborator Ken Whiteley and recorded in Toronto, where Fred lives with his spouse, voice/acting coach and director Rae Ellen Bodie (whom he married in 2016 and who co-wrote two of the songs on the album). Fred created for the cd to satisfy three generations of his fans and includes guests such as Ron Sexsmith, Terra Lightfoot, Alex Cuba, Basia Bulat, Jackie Richardson, The Good Lovelies, Fred’s four children and a wealth of Canada’s best musicians.

 

I’ll never know what its like to be a kid listening to Fred Penner. I never had the chance. I’ll never have that kid-like experience of hearing The Cat Came Back Fred style, for the first time. I’m really happy that my boys will be had that experience at last time Fred came to Summerfolk.

As for me, it’s never too late to have a happy childhood. I’ll be having mine at Fred’s pub

 

Fred will be playing workshops and a special spotlight children’s concert  at 2PM Saturday August 17 at the Amphitheatre stage during Summerfolk this year.

For more information on all things summerfolk please visit us at www.summerfolk.org

The Summerfolk Music and Crafts Festival happens at Kelso Beach Park in Owen Sound August 17, 18 and 19.

 

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Sun Times Article 1: Waiting for Summerfolk…

Every year Artistic Director James Keelaghan writes a series of 12 articles for the Owen Sound Sun Times previewing the Summerfolk Music and Crafts Festival

By James Keelaghan

There are eighty-five days until Summerfolk.

 

Down at Kelso Beach Park, the buds are just beginning to open on the trees. The grass is turning green and the water, ice-free, is lapping at the shore. Were there security cameras installed, over the past weeks you would have noticed small groups of people with clipboards and measuring wheels roaming the grounds. You’d see a lot of pointing and scribbling and taking snapshots.

 

Eighty-five days, but we are in the park, measuring and imagining.

 

We’re imagining a park full of music and food and artisans. We’re imagining families, children, young lovers, tourists and others of all shapes, sizes and persuasions coming together for three days to share a common experience—Summerfolk.

 

Forty-three years ago this August, a group of people imagined Summerfolk into existence. Every year since then, we appear to conjure a festival out of thin air, transforming Kelso Beach Park into a place where music plays for 14 hours a day and where 4,000 people a day gather to share an experience.

 

Like Dickens’ spirits, though, Summerfolk doesn’t live for just three days. It’s a year’s worth of work. It’s May, but the performers have been booked, the food vendors and artisans selected, tents and port-a-potties ordered and the sound system reserved. Some grant applications and sponsorship deals are worked on 18 months before the current festival.

 

Every month, the Summerfolk committee meets to propose and discuss ideas and to work out logistics. We ask ourselves a lot of questions. Did we place this or that tent properly last year? What happens if we move that fence 5 feet? Is there enough power to do what we want? Do we want the tent sides with the rings so we can close the sides more quickly if it rains?

 

Right about now, the committee heads start reaching out to the over 700 volunteers who staff the various crews—construction, electrical, staging, trash and more.

 

All of that is done for a singular purpose—so that we can come together for three days and enjoy life. Music and food and art make life better. Sure we relax and soak up the sun, have a glass of wine or a beer but we also feed our minds. I sometimes walk away from a stage at Summerfolk shaking my head at the intricacy of something I heard, or a line from a song stuck in my head, or when I hear a type of music I’ve never heard before.

 

Myself, I’m deep into the scheduling of the festival. Over the past few months, I’ve whittled down hundreds of applications and sent out hundreds of offers. My wish list at the start of this process is seldom the same as the final list of performers because of several factors—fees versus our budget, availability just to name two.

 

Now that the list is done, I’m scheduling the festival I’m figuring out when each act is going to get their performance time. I’m thinking about the combination of performers for each workshop. A songwriter’s circle with Sarah Harmer, Stephen Fearing and Rose Cousins seems like a natural—as does a workshop with the Kubasonics and Polky Village Band. That’s two out of the sixty daytime slots taken care of!

 

Eighty-five days until Summerfolk.

 

You may have noticed I haven’t been saying eighty-five sleeps. There’s a good reason for that. As Summerfolk approaches, sleep time falls off as a square of the distance from today’s date to August 17. But time just keeps on rolling.

 

We’re excited about the program we’ve put together for you, from perennial children’s entertainer, Fred Penner to the incredibly soulful Tanika Charles. From a stilt-walking Maracatu band, Tallbeat, to the fresh sound of The Lifers–from the Welsh trad sensation Calan to the ever so modern Bahamas—musically there will be a lot to delight your ears. A children’s area, our signature wine bar, over 40 artisans, fantastic food–we really can’t wait.

 

But we have to.

 

Eighty-five days until Summerfolk. You can find information and links to tickets, as ever, at summerfolk.org. You’ll find us at Kelso Beach Park 17th, 18th and 19th. We look forward to showing you a good time.

 

Underneath any great festival are great sponsors.
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