Of all the big festivals in the area, Ottawa Folk festival is my favourite. The location has as much to do with it as the great line-up that generally leaves the bombast and heavily-boozed looking elsewhere.

Folk Fest certainly has grown a great deal even in the few years since the Bluefest crew took it over, but the change of location was for the better and so far, at least, it still feels cozy and comfortable.

Hayden, Michael Feuerstack and Dave Norris @ Slackwater Stage, Saturday, 4 p.m. 

There are three stages at Folk Fest that don't cost a thing, and they're perfect spots to camp out with family of any age: from the diapered set to the grandparents who don't like their ears blasted off (among whom I count myself).

One must-see show features three guys who are all among my must-hear albums of this year and they take the Slackwater stage together at 4 p.m. Michael Feuerstack of Snailhouse and Dave Norris will be joined by a very well-known purveyor of slacker-folk, Hayden, the folk singer who needs no last name.

Like Beth Orton, he's approaching his 20-year anniversary of his debut and making me feel long in the tooth. I feel like I bought that CD yesterday. It was called Everything I Long For and he was referencing it there in that song "Almost Everything." He also references the fact that he records in his basement "while his kid is upstairs in bed," which is exactly the topic of the workshop he's doing at Folk Fest Saturday.

It's called Make It Yourself, and it's all about creating an album in your bedroom, basement, wherever.

Listings

Saturday

  • Monique Angele + Fade Chromatic @ Avante Garde Bar
  • Caridad Cruz & Miguel De Armas Quartet @ NAC 4th STAGE

Sunday

  • JW Jones Blues Band 4:20 @ THE BLACK SHEEP INN, Wakefield
  • Mo Kenney @ Ottawa Folk Fest (3:15 pm) FREE show!
  • HISTORY & EVOLUTION OF REGGAE MUSIC @ Slackwater Stage (free) Ottawa Folk Fest: 5:00 - 5:45 p.m. Hosted by Danny Michel
  • Members of The Wailers! Lynn Miles + Gordon Lightfoot and more @ Ottawa Folk Fest

BONUS! Folk Fest Free Stage Picks - Saturday

  • "Guitar Master" @ Legacy Stage (free) 2 – 2:45 p.m. Host: John Carroll, Special Guest: Jeff Lang. John Carroll leads this combination interview/workshop highlighting the masterful guitar skills of Jeff Lang. Come and learn about the unique possibilities and approach to Lap Slide guitar playing, as well as a little bit about the Weissenborn, the first guitar designed exclusively for Lap slide playing. You will also get a chance to hear Jeff's virtuoso playing.
  • "Femme Fatale" @ Slackwater Stage (free) workshop 3 – 3:45 p.m. Host: Shannon Rose, Artists: Catriona Sturton, and more! Local songstress Shannon Rose leads this group of fabulous female artists as they share stories and songs in an intimate workshop setting.
  • "Make It Yourself" @ Slackwater Stage (free) 4 – 4:45 p.m. Host: Michael Feuerstack Artists: Michael Feuerstack, Dave Norris, Hayden. Feuerstack leads a workshop discussing the pros and cons of home recording and how it impacts songwriting and the creative process.
  • "Interview: Chris Hadfield" @ Slackwater Stage (free) 5 – 6 p.m. Host: Danny Michel, Special Guests: Chris Hadfield, Dave Hadfield. The experience of a lifetime – Listen in on a conversation between Danny Michel and Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield as they discuss space and music. The conversation will be accompanied by music performed by Danny, Chris and his brother Dave.
  • "Uprooted" workshop @ Legacy Stage (free) 5 – 5:45 p.m. Artists: Rachel Sermanni, Mo Kenney. The two songwriters, pulled from cross-country and cross-continent to share their songs and stories. Don't miss this intimate performance!