3 accordions Saturday morning at the Vancouver Folk Festival… I am in accordion heaven!

Lots of accordions at the Vancouver Folk Festival on Saturday morning.
Kiran Ahluwalia

It is a beautiful sunny morning at Jericho beach with drifting clouds giving some respite to the late morning festival goers at the Vancouver Folk Festival.  My girlfriend and I bicycled over to the Jericho Beach Park site.  As we lock up our bikes we listen to Kiran Aluwalia and Maeve Mackinnon are performing at the Mother Tongue workshop at stage 3.  We walk in past the children's area and watch Chibi Taiko performing Japanese taiko drums on stage.


We make our way over to Stage 4 where Spirit of the West is setting up with LAU, an acoustic trio – but one of Scotland's most innovative traditonalist musicians.  This workshop is called Celtic Connections.  Each group plays a turn.  Spirit of the West opens with “Another New Year's Day.”

LAU opens with some easy banter about the band finding it way too early to play in the morning.  It is actually only 11:25… but “way to early, even in Scotland.”  They play a gentle accoustic suite of songs that morphs into a chaotic frenzy.  Martin Green is hammering his 48 button accordion in time with rhythmic guitarist Kris Drever, and fiddler Aidan O'Rourke.  Too bad the sound system guys haven't woken up yet to balance this mix.

Spirit of the West

Spirit of the West introduces guest fiddler Kendel Carson from the band Outlaw Social,  She makes a great addition both musically and visually.  They perform a song titled “King of Scotland” that celebrates the passing of Idi Amin.  Tobin Frank is playing his 120 bass piano accordion.  Geoffrey Kelly plays his flute with runs that are impossibly fast and rhythmic.  Incredible.

Del Castillo

We walk over to stage 6 where the American flamenco-gypsy band is playing.   It is a
high-energy Chicano band that sings in Spanish, combining old-school
Gitano with nuevo flamenco and churning polyrhythmic percussion.  They really have the audience going.

Over at stage 5, DNA 6 is hosting Sounds of the City with Delhi 2 Dublin.  Lots of rap hip hop but when the 2 bands work togther, the celtic fiddle of Kytami and sitar player Andrew Kim make it very world fusion.

Charanga Cakewalk

Walking back to stage 6, we follow the full sounds of accordion with a wonderful rhythmic beat.  Charanga Cakewalk is busy inciting the audience to dance.  They are described in the program as “a pan-Latin American martini of equal parts traditional instruments and deep urban grooves.”

Red Chamber

On the way walking out of the park, we discover Red Chamber is playing.  I am always amazed at the fast string plucking of the Chinese instrument called the Chinese zither.

Then I spot Spirit of the West co-founder and flautist Geoffrey Kelly grabbing a coffee.  I introduce myself, and we chat about the time he performed with The Paper Boys for the CBC television performance special “Gung Haggis Fat Choy.”  It was the first ever music video ever filmed in The Dr. Sun Yat Sen Classical Chinese Gardens. 

“We had a lot of fun,” Kelly recalls, “Jim was great on Chinese flute too.”

Hmmm…. maybe The Paperboys with Geoffrey Kelly will be featured guests at the 2009 Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner?  It could happen…. The line up is always about what inspires me, and who I meet in my travels.

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